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Safety is extremely important in my home. Ever since my kids were young, I have been teaching them ways to protect themselves, avoid injury, and how to escape safely from a fire, no matter what floor of our home they are on. We even go over our plan of action three times a year to keep it fresh in their minds.

Today is the day Americans celebrate Fire Prevention Day. Did you know that this day was established over 140 years ago to commemorate the great Chicago fire of 1871, which destroyed over 17,000 homes and left 100,000 homeless? Today is the perfect day to increase your awareness about safety measures and precautions you can take to prevent fires in your home and keep your family safe.

The best and most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove fire hazards. According to the Red Cross, sixty-five percent of home fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. Lives can be saved in a home fire if the smoke alarms work and a fire escape plan was followed.

Be sure to install smoke alarms on every level of your home, especially inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Test them every month and replace the batteries at least once a year.

Make sure each family member knows about a fire escape plan. Try to practice that plan at least twice a year.

10963-close-up-of-a-burning-flame-orOther things to consider:

  • Keep items that can catch on fire (such as newspapers, drapes, tablecloths, bedding, fabrics, and magazines) at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, like space heaters.
  • As tempting as it is, NEVER smoke in bed.
  • Keep them matches and lighters out of children’s reach. Talk to them about the dangers of matches and how they can cause fires.
  • Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep. Check for loose or frayed cords.
  • When cooking, stay in the kitchen if you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • When simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly. Learn to use a timer to remind you that food is cooking.
  • Keep things like pot holders, towels, fabrics, plastic and clothing away from the stove so it doesn’t catch fire.
  • Keep your pets off countertops and cooking areas so they don’t knock things onto the burner.
  • When cooking, make sure all pot and pan handles are turned in to the stove so you don’t hit into them.
  • Keep all candles out of reach of children and NEVER leave a lit candle unattended. Many house fires are caused from lit candles!
  • Check appliances for odd smells and loose or broken cords.
  • When it comes to TV’s, video games, stereos, computers, printers and phone chargers, avoid overloading your outlets.
  • Use the correct bulb wattage in your light fixtures.
  • Unplug all electric blankets when not using them. Check the cords for funny smells.
  • Use your screen on your fireplace. Keep your fireplace clean and only burn wood. Be sure the fire is extinguished before leaving the room. Clean out your fireplace every year.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas. Never disable smoke or carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.
  • Avoid leaving your car running in the garage if your garage is attached to your home.

Teach your kids:

  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, quickly move by an open window or door.
  • What a smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
  • A fire escape plan. Make sure they know two ways to escape from every room of your home.
  • Where to meet outside in case of fire.
  • Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year and at different times of the day. Practice waking up to smoke alarms, low crawling and meeting outside. Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
  • How to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.
  • During a fire, if the doors are closed and the handles are warm, DO NOT open the door. Find another way out.
  • Always crawl low under smoke.
  • During a fire, if there is smoke, heat or flames blocking the exit routes, stay in the room with doors closed and place a wet towel under the door. Call 9-1-1, and open a window and scream for help.
  • How to use a fire extinguisher CAREFULLY!

Safe Kids Worldwide is a global organization dedicated to preventing injuries in children. Their website is full of information to teach your children. Log on to www.safekids.org for more tips.

www.usfa.fema.gov also has free outreach materials that are perfect for teaching your children about fire safety.

What are some safety tips you use around your home to keep your family safe? Do you have a fire escape plan that you teach your kids? Share your ideas with us!