Prevent Fires and Burns
A fire can start in many areas of your home. Once started, a fire can rage out of control. Protect your family. Prevent fire before it starts. Guard against these hazards.
Smoking: Most deaths in home fires are caused by careless smoking. Someone falls asleep in bed with a lit cigarette. Or someone leaves a cigarette on the edge of a table. Don't let anyone smoke in your home. If people must smoke, ask them to go outside. Provide an ashtray or tin can for matches and butts. You don't want them to flick butts into dry grass or leaves.
Heaters: Place space heaters away from bedding, clothing, drapes and anything else that can catch fire. Don't warm yourself by standing close to heaters. If you're cold, put on extra socks or a sweater. Teach children not to run or play around heaters.
Electrical system: Ask your landlord how old the electrical system is. Older houses were not wired to carry today's electrical loads. You may need heavy-duty outlets for the stove, washer and other large appliances. You may need more outlets for things like clocks, the TV and lamps.
Don't plug several appliances into one outlet. Overloading can cause a fire. Use only the correct size fuses. If a fuse blows out again and again, call for repair. If you feel a tingle when touching a toaster or other electrical device, unplug it. Replace it or have it repaired.
Don't run cords under rugs or carpets. The cord can become damaged and set a carpet on fire. When you leave the house, make sure all appliances are turned off. Never leave an electrical appliance running when you're gone.
Kitchen: Most kitchen fires occur as a result of cooking. Keep towels and other flammable things away from burners. Never leave the kitchen when something is cooking. While cooking, watch your child closely. Turn pot handles to the back of the stove. Use the back burners whenever possible.
Keep your child away when you open a hot oven. If a fire starts on the stove, cover it with a large pot lid or baking pan. Don't throw water on burning grease. It can send the hot grease flying and spread the fire. Instead, douse a grease fire with salt or baking soda. Store matches in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store them out of your child's reach.
Storage areas: Remove piles of trash, old clothes and other things that can burn. Get rid of kerosene, paint thinner and other flammable liquids. If you must use them for a time, keep these products away from heat. Use them only where the air is moving freely. Let paint and polish rags dry thoroughly. If you stuff them into a garbage can on a hot day, the vapors can ignite. Never store gasoline indoors. Never use it to start a fire.
Clothing: Check the labels of your child's clothing and bedding. Don't use any items that say, "Flammable."
Holiday decorations: Keep lighted candles away from paper, curtains and other things that can burn. If you use a live Christmas tree, keep it in a container of wet soil or water.
What To Do in Case of Fire
Gather your children. Leave your home right away. Forget about what you're wearing. Don't grab valuables. Just get your family out.
Never open a door that feels hot. A hot door may mean a fire is blazing on the other side. If you open the door, you could be killed by the heat and smoke. Try another escape route. Or call for help.
In a smoky area, crawl on the floor. Smoke tends to rise. It will be thinnest near the floor. Never use an elevator. Elevators may fill with hot air and smoke. And the fire may damage the cable or operating machinery.
If your clothing catches fire, "stop, drop and roll." Don't run. Running will make the fire worse. Instead, drop to the ground and cover your face with your hands. Roll to put out the fire. If it's your child's clothing, roll him on the ground. Or wrap him in a coat or blanket to put out the fire.
Plan Escape Routes
Plan ahead for how your family would escape in case of fire. You need to plan ahead to avoid panic.
Find at least two escape routes from each room, especially the bedrooms. A door will provide one path. A window may provide another. For upstairs windows, you may need to keep a ladder or rope within easy reach.
If you use a dead-bolt lock on doors, keep the key in the lock or hanging nearby. You don't want to spend time looking for it in case of a fire.
Make sure escape windows unlock and open easily. Learn how to remove screens and safety bars.
If you live in an apartment, find the fire exits and the fire escape. Don't plan on using an elevator.
Find a spot to meet outside. This could be a tree or a streetlight. Here is where the family will check in.
Show children pictures of firefighters. Explain that they are helpers. Their masks could frighten children and cause them to panic.
Use a Smoke Alarm
Many fire deaths occur between midnight and 4 a.m., when the family is asleep. Fire produces smoke and gases that can numb your senses. If a fire breaks out, you may not wake up, or you may not be able to think clearly. That's why you need a smoke detector. This will sound an alarm when a fire starts. Then you can get your family to safety.
- Make sure you have a smoke detector. Ask your landlord for one. You can buy a smoke detector for as little as $10.
- Make sure the smoke detector is installed correctly: on a ceiling, at least six inches from the wall or on a wall 6-12 inches from the ceiling, away from windows, doors and vents.
- Check the battery every six months. Do it when you change the clocks for Daylight Savings Time. That's an easy way to remember. Brush or vacuum dust from the unit. Dust can cause it to malfunction.
- Detectors are sensitive to cooking fumes, fireplace smoke and cigarettes. When the alarm sounds, teach your children to stay calm.
- For more information on fire safety, contact your local fire department or visit the U.S. Fire Administration Web site at www.usfa.fema.gov.
For more information about dads and their baby's first year, get The Everything® Father's First Year Book by Vincent Iannelli, MD, which is published by Adams Media and is now available at your favorite bookstore.
You can also order The Everything® Father's First Year Book right now from amazon.com.