Do Your Children Know What To Do If They Wake to a Fire? Here is a Step-by-Step to Keep Children Safe During a Fire.
As I mentioned yesterday, this is our annual fire safety weekend. We will do all the things we need to do to keep our family safe during a fire, but what exactly does that mean? Here is a handy checklist of things to do and review before a fire happens. They are quick, simple, easy-to-follow steps that should never be overlooked.
(1) Insure that your home is safe.
Smoke detectors. Twice each year you should conduct battery tests on your smoke detectors. And once every ten years you should replace all smoke detectors. The National Fire Protection Agency says:
- Three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms
- More than one-third (38 percent) of home fire deaths result from fires in which no smoke alarms are present.
- The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms.
Those detectors are your family’s first line of defense for getting out alive. If fire breaks out at night, they might be your family’s only line of defense. Insuring that your home is safe is the first in our Step-by-Step to Keep Children Safe During a Fire, and smoke detectors might be one of the most important steps.
Carbon monoxide detectors. Why do you need them? Because carbon monoxide is odorless, and you have no way of knowing that you are being poisoned until it’s too late. Carbon monoxide is produced any time something is burned. So it comes from:
- Clothes dryers
- Water heaters
- Furnaces or boilers
- Fireplaces, both gas and wood burning
- Gas stoves and ovens
- Motor vehicles
- Grills, generators, power tools, lawn equipment
- Wood stoves
- Tobacco smoke
- Pellet Stoves
- and anything else that burns anything to produce heat or smoke
Have a carbon monoxide detector within 10 feet of every bedroom. In our house that means just one upstairs in the main hallway. We also have a pellet stove, so we have one in the room where the pellet stove is located.
You should also know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning because it looks and feels a lot like the flu. If these happen, get out of the house, call 911, and have your heat/smoke making appliances
You can tell the difference between CO poisoning and the flu with these clues:
- You feel better when you are away from home
- Everyone is the home is sick at the same time (the flu virus usually spreads from person to person)
- The family members most effected spend the most time in the house
- Indoor pets appear ill
- You don’t have a fever or body aches, and you don’t have swollen lymph nodes that are common with the flu and some other infections
- Symptoms appear or seem to get worse when using fuel-burning equipment
Candle use. Candles are beautiful, but they can be deadly. Any time you use a candle in your house, be sure to follow these safety instructions. You can also switch out your candles for wax warmers that don’t include flames, which you can get from most stores or from your local Scentsy consultant. Find a local consultant here.
Fire Extinguishers. Have a properly rated fire extinguisher in your kitchen, garage, basement, and in every bedroom where a person old enough to operate one safely sleeps.
All household extinguishers are classified A, B, or C (or a combination of these) on the label to indicate which types of fires — ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids, or electrical—you can use them on. Many of the ones sold at home stores are classified A:B:C and fight all three types of fires. Those are the ones I recommend you get. Here are some quick links. The first is to a 4-pack which is a good start for an average home. The second is an individual unit. The last is for garage/workshop.
Electrical Safety. There are basic things you can do to keep your home safe from electrical fires.
- Don’t put scarves over lamps to make a room look pretty.
- Don’t overload extension cords, and only use them for temporary needs such as plugging in lighting for an area not often used. Unplug them when not in use.
- Allow space around appliances that generate heat, such as t.v.’s and audio equipment.
- Unplug toasters and coffee makers when you aren’t using them.
- Don’t use any appliance with a cracked or frayed cord.
- Never overload an outlet. There should never be more than two appliances operating off of one outlet at the same time.
- Never use a lightbulb stronger than a lamp is designed to use.
- If your home keeps blowing circuits or fuses, there is a problem. Get it checked.
- Discoloration of an outlets signals a problem. Turn off that circuit and get it checked.
Matches and Lighters. Children are curious and sometimes fascinated with fire. Store your matches and lighters out of reach. If you smoke, only own one lighter, and know where it is at all times.
(2) Insure that every member of your family, regardless of age, knows exactly what to do if they wake during the night to smoke and flames.
Does your child know what to do if they wake to smoke and flames? Do they know not to hide from the fire? Do they know to stay low to the floor and crawl quickly to you if the path is clear? What if the path is blocked by fire? What if the smoke is all the way to the floor? Have you explained to them what they should do? This is the weekend to rehearse those drills. Here’s a few things to review:
- Set off a fire alarm in your house so they know what it sounds like and what it means.
- Teach them at least two ways out of each room of the house if there should be a fire.
- Teach them to ROLL out of bed. Do NOT stand up.
- Teach them that if they are stranded in their bedroom they are to unlock the window and push out or kick out the screen. Watch them unlock the window. Make sure they can do it. Teach them to take breaths of air and hold it before standing to unlock the window.
- If their bedroom is on a 2nd or 3rd floor, teach them how to attach the window ladder. (links below)
- If they need to climb up to a window, insure that they know how to do that and that they can.
- Teach them that sleeping with bedroom doors fully closed is safer.
- Teach them where to meet you after they escape the burning house.
- Teach very young children their name, address, and telephone number. Make sure they can say it, and make sure they know only to say it to emergency personnel like police, fire, or ambulance.
- Practice a fire drill. Then practice again. Practice like they have access to you. Practice like they don’t.
Scary huh? I know. Do it anyway. You will never regret doing it. You might regret not.
Here are those links to those window ladders again. Worth. Every. Penny.
The second link gives you access to 2 or 3 story home ladders.
(3) Use Safe Cooking Standards
- Never Leave Cooking Unattended.
- Never leave home when a microwave oven, stove burner, or oven is on. Keep a close eye on what you’re cooking.But what about your slow cooker? Aileen Fanjul, a representative of the Crock-Pot® brand at Jarden Consumer Solutions, says the appliance doesn’t need to be monitored at all times.
“It is safe to leave your Crock-Pot® slow cooker on while you are out of the house,” she states. “The slow cooker runs on very low wattage, allowing you to cook a meal over an 8-10 hour period of time. Programmable units include an Auto-Shift to Warm feature, automatically shifting the unit to a Warm setting once the set cook time is up.”
- Keep Your Cooking Area Clean. Many items in the kitchen can catch fire easily including pot holders, dish towels, and product packaging. Keep curtains away from the stove and clean up all spills on the stove top or near by counters.
- Clean your oven regularly. Many kitchen fires start because of built up grease.
- Kids & Pets Should Stay Clear. There is an imaginary kid-free zone three-feet around your kitchen stove. Enforce it strictly. Also keep pets from running around underfoot. They might cause you to trip when you’re holding or near to something very hot.
- Always Turn Pot Handles In. It is too easy for a child to reach up and grab or hit a pot or pan handle that’s sticking out over the edge of the stovetop.
- Watch Your Sleeves. Be mindful of what you’re wearing while cooking. Loose sleeves over hot stove burners can catch fire. Wear clothing with snug cuffs or roll up the sleeves.
- If a fire starts in your oven or microwave oven, keep the door closed to prevent air from feeding the flames. Turn the appliance off or pull the plug. If the flames don’t die out quickly, call 911.
- Always Be Alert. Don’t cook if you’re under the influence of alcohol. The same goes if you’re drowsy from medication or fatigue.
(4) Use Smoking Safety Standards.
- Encourage smokers to smoke outside.
- Dispose of cigarettes outside in non combustible containers. Do not use flower pots or potting soil.
- Keep ashtrays or containers away from combustible materials and buildings.
- Ensure cigarettes are fully extinguished before leaving the room.
- Empty ashtrays into a can or other metal container, do not dump them directly into the garbage.
- Ensure all lighters and matches are kept away from small children.
- Never smoke in bed or mix smoking with medication or alcohol.
- After parties or gatherings, check sofa and furniture cushions to be sure no ashes or cigarettes have been dropped and left smoldering. In one report on furniture burn times, furniture smoldered for six hours before burning. Don’t assume all is well and go to bed. If people smoked in the house during your party, check the furniture.
- Keep lighters and matches out of reach of children at all times.
(5) Keep Clutter to A Minimum
Is it time to do an early and thorough cleaning to reduce clutter? Clutter can not only be trip and fall hazards, but fire hazards as well. Large amounts of clutter can make fire rescue difficult or impossible. Need a place to begin? Start with our Spring Cleaning List.
That’s it! We’ll do all this again this time next year. 🙂
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