FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) reports that every year over 3,000 children in the United States are injured or killed in fire related accidents. That number sounds frightening, and it should. Having smoke/fire alarms in your home is only the beginning of preventative measures you should be taking to keep your home and family safe. Consider the following ways of reducing fire disasters as well as educate your children about fire safety.
With the amount of electrical devices in most American homes it can be easy to overlook the dangers they pose. Regularly check cords and wires for frays or breaks, as well as looseness in connection to the outlets. An over-crowded outset can be solved by using a power strip protector. Unused outlets should be protected with safety covers.
Have an escape ladder in easy access on upper level floors. Practice installing it and keep in an easy to reach place (i.e. not in the back of the closet.)
Regardless of their cooking experience, never let your child use the stove when you are away from the house, using the shower, sleeping or outside. Keep a kitchen fire extinguisher within easy reach and educate yourself, and your child, on how to use it. The National Fire Protection Association has created the easy to remember acronym of PASS:
- Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you, and release the locking mechanism.
- Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
- Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
Set reminders on your calendar to periodically check for recalled products. FEMA publishes an on-going list of recalled items on their website: http://apps.usfa.fema.gov/cpsc/kid_recalls.jsp
Do not assume that you alone can prevent fires. You are the number one teacher when it comes to educating your child. Playing with fire is the number one cause of fire-related casualties in children under the age of 14. Test your child’s fire safety knowledge in a non-frightening way with this 20 question, quiz.
Approach your child’s teacher and request a field trip to a local fire station. Use any news stories they may hear as ‘teachable moments.’ Instead of only testing them, do a role reversal and ask them to quiz you in fire safety rules.
Fire disasters occur can occur without any warning or prediction. Take the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” to heart and protect your house and loved ones.