Imagine going about your usual day just driving to the gym or Pilates then unexpectedly, the phone rings. The call is the bane of every loving parent’s dreams; that one call telling you that your child is no longer here.
The nation’s fire service reports that during 2010- 2014, over 358,000 homes were damaged or destroyed by fire. To put this into perspective, each year over 2500 people died in avoidable fire accidents. On average that equals to 7 Americans per day every day.
These avoidable fires are usually the result of people who are unprepared for the event. This is mainly because of the a house fire is one of those things that happens to others but will never happen to me.
Here are a few tips in making your home safe from fires
3 in 5 deaths (60%) occur in homes with no smoke alarms or a defective smoke alarm.
After installing an alarm in each room, do a monthly test to ensure they are all working. If a defective smoke alarm is found, it becomes the priority and must be fixed. Do not delay as your kids’ safety depends on it.
Be Careful in the Kitchen
Reports of home fires peak during the dinner hours of 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Especially during these hours, be as careful as is possible.
While using the stove remain in the kitchen or as close to the kitchen as possible. This will not only prevent a burnt dinner, but the cook can keep an eye on the flame. Once the kitchen is vacant, turn off the stove.
Do not leave small kitchen appliances such as toaster ovens, coffee pots, hot plates, waffle makers or microwaves plugged in when they are not in use. Additionally, replace or repair appliances that smoke or show any other signs of wear.
Keep flammable items away such as towels and clothing away from the stove and children. Other sources of fire include chemicals, lighters, and matches. Remember to keep these in a high cupboard and away from curious hands.
Teach Everyone about Fire Safety
Adults 65 years and older have a 230% greater chance of dying in a home fire- the same as children. Be sure to teach everyone the sound of the smoke alarm and to exit the home as soon as they hear it.
Have them shout to other family members to alert them so they can do the same.
Most fire related deaths are ironically not caused by burns but by smoke inhalation. Teach everyone to lay low during a fire and to cover their nose and mouth as they exit the building.
Teach the children never to play with matches, lighters, or other chemicals. Be an example because children follow what is done rather than what is said.
Have a Detailed Escape Plan
Since fires are easily started and they also spread quickly, a solid Escape Plan will ensure the safety of your household. Ideally, each month (or at least every three months) along with the smoke detector tests, practice an escape plan on a room by room basis with the family.
- Draw a map of your home showing all doors and windows
- Walk through every room and find two escape routes
- Have a meeting place outside in front of the building
- Learn the phone number for your local fire department
- If the smoke alarm beeps, get out of the house and do not try to save anything
- Before opening any door feel it as a fire may be on the other side
- Stop, Drop and Roll- if the fire happens to move to the clothing teach your kids to stop, cover their faces and mouths with their hands and roll on the ground until the flames are out
- Once outside call 911 and DO NOT re-enter the building
- Practice and time the plan as often as possible- make it into a game using stopwatches to hold the attention of the kids
Children have the added benefit of great muscle memory; the regular practice will come in handy when it is time to implement what has been practiced.
It has always been said that a preventative measure is much better than a cure. Teaching the family and especially the children the essentials of fire safety can make the difference between seeing your children graduate and having to imagine them graduating because they are no longer here.