October is Fire Prevention Month!
But it's always a good time to review fire safety. The National Fire Protection Association offers great information that I will share with you. First, they recommend smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside all sleeping areas and on every level of the home, including the basement. According to the NFPA's vice president, most families now have at least one smoke alarm. Unfortunately, fewer people are aware of the new recommendations, and may not be as well protected as they think. The NFPA specifically recommends combination smoke alarms, or both ionization and photoelectric alarms. An ionization alarm is generally more responsive to a flaming fire condition where a photoelectric alarm is generally more responsive to a smoldering fire. Combination alarms have both capabilities. Whichever type you choose, make sure they carry the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
Working smoke alarms give us the opportunity to escape safely in case of fire and can reduce the chance of tragedy in a fire by half. Make sure to test alarms monthly, in order to keep your family safe. Many times, batteries are dead, missing or the alarms are disconnected. The NFPA recommends the replacement of all smoke alarms, including those that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they're ten years old, or before, if they don't test properly. Use the test button on the smoke alarm, and make sure that everyone in the family recognizes the smoke alarm sound. If the alarm begins to chirp, indicating a weak battery, replace the battery right away. Finding those extra minutes every month to test alarms is well worth it, as an early warning from a smoke alarm can make the difference in surviving a fire.
If your smoke alarm alerts you to a fire, realize that you may have only a few minutes to escape safely. Don't spend time getting dressed or gathering up valuables. Just get out and stay out. Call the fire department from a neighbor's house. Create a fire escape plan ahead of time and practice it with your family to increase the chances of your getting out safely. During a real fire, it's hot, smokey and dark; there's no time to think about what to do. Make sure each family member knows two ways to exit each room, in case the primary exit is blocked by smoke or fire. Establish a meeting place outside and reinforce the idea that getting out of the house is the first priority.
Educate Your Children
Children playing with fire cause hundreds of deaths and injuries each year. Most are started by preschoolers and kindergartners playing with lighters or matches. Keep matches and lighters out of children's reach and line of sight, up high and inside a cupboard. Don't entertain children by using matches or lighters, as children are the great imitators. Firmly explain to them that those are tools for adults only.
As Halloween approaches, remember to buy only costumes that are labeled flame-resistant or flame-retardant. Use materials that won't easily ignite if making your own costume. Try to avoid using long-trailing or billowing pieces on costumes. Make sure the eyeholes on masks are large enough to see out of and give children a flashlight to carry so they can see and be seen, more easily.
Candles & Other Home Decor
When decorating your home, remember that dried flowers and cornstalks are highly flammable. Keep them away from heat sources and from all open flames, including light bulbs, space heaters and candles. Home candle fires occur more than half the time when some kind of combustible material was left or came too close to a candle. The NFPA reminds everyone to blow out all candles when leaving a room or going to bed. They discourage the use of candles in bedrooms or any room where people fall asleep. Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn and use sturdy candle holders to help prevent candles from tipping over.