By Angela Ardolino
A home fire is something we hope never happens to us but most families don’t have a plan in place in case the worst does occur. In 2009, fire departments treated more than 13,000 fire-related injuries that could have been prevented. With more than 350,000 residential fires in the United States annually, there are a number of small steps your family can take to prepare.
Fire in the home is a scary thought and can cause your kids to do impulsive things that may not be best. Here are a few ideas to plan and practice in case of a fire in your home.
- Identify two escape routes in your home. Make sure that everyone (kids included) understand where both are in case one is blocked by flames.
- Practice fire drills at least twice a year. It should be second nature for your family to know what to do in case of a fire.
- In case of a fire, decide on a meeting place outside your home so everyone in the family can be accounted for quickly.
Make sure to establish rules about fire in the home. Don’t assume that your children know not to play with fire.
- Every room in your home should be equipped with a working fire detector. Make sure to test it twice a year and that your children know what it sounds like so if it ever goes off.
- As simple a it sounds, make sure everyone knows “Stop, Drop and Roll”. This could be a lifesaver.
- Children are never to play with matches, lighters, candles or any other fire starting or fuel source.
- Set the right example. If you don’t play with fire, your kids won’t either.
The most important part of fire safety is prevention. Take a few minutes to walk around the house and make sure that there are no concern areas that may lead to issues later on.
- Make sure all flammable liquids (including cleaners) are stored outside of the home, out of reach of children.
- Have one fire extinguisher for every 1,000 square feet of living space. Clarify that all family members know where they are located and how to operate them.
- Never leave burning candles or the stove unattended while in use.
- During the holidays, take special care with tree lights and have your chimney and shoot cleaned an inspected before and after the season.
- If you use space heaters in your home, make sure they are plugged in directly to a wall (not an extension cord) and are at least three feet from anything else (walls, tables, furniture). Always unplug them before leaving the house or going to bed.
Preventing a fire depends on your proactive, not reactive, approach. When it comes to preventing fires, get the entire family involved. If everyone knows the plan and preventative measures, not only will you avoid a home fire, you’ll also instill a sense of responsibility in your kids.