There are many designated weeks and months for various causes that pay tribute to organizations, to health missions and to enshrined individuals. One of the more notable and one that actually does save lives is National Fire Prevention Month and Fire Prevention Week.

It shouldn’t be just once a year but especially during Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 9-15, families and work places should pause to take an inventory of recommended fire prevention safety tips.

Here are five simple things that you can do today to help protect your family from fire.

Do a Smoke Alarm Audit

Do an audit of your home’s smoke alarms. (If you don’t have UL listed smoke alarms, make a plan to install them on each level of the home, especially near sleeping areas). Check placement: Smoke rises, so smoke alarms should be located on a ceiling or high on a wall. Alarms mounted on the ceiling should be at least four inches away from the nearest wall and those mounted on walls should be four to twelve inches down from the ceiling. Test your alarms and be sure that they can be heard in bedrooms even when the doors are closed. If not, install smoke alarms in the bedrooms. Make sure that your kids know what the alarms sound like. Replace alarms that are older than 10 years and replace any alarm that has been painted over.

Make Extinguishers Handy

Be sure that you have at least one or more UL listed fire extinguishers in your home. An ABC-type extinguisher is a good all-purpose choice for fires in the home. Check the gauge located on the extinguisher to see if it needs to be replaced or recharged. Also be sure that the fire extinguisher is in an easily accessible location. Remember that fire extinguishers are not designed to fight large or spreading fires. Your number one priority is to have an escape plan and to get out safely. If the fire is small and contained and the room is not filled with smoke, get everyone out and call the fire department; then, you may use the fire extinguisher to control the fire.

Talk Prevention with Your Kids
Talk to your kids about how they can prevent fires. Children under age five are especially curious about fire and need to start learning about the tremendous danger. Take the mystery out of fire and make sure that your kids know the following safety tips: 1) Never play with matches, lighters or candles. 2) Never play with electrical cords and never put anything in a socket. 3) Blankets or clothes should never be thrown on top of lamps. 4) Don’t turn up a heater without a grown-up’s permission. 5) If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll.

Look at Your Home From Your Child’s Perspective
Think about how your child sees potential fire hazards in your home by getting down on your hands and knees with them and taking a look around. See any dangling cords that could cause a problem if pulled? Enticing heaters or other appliances? Make adjustments to your home according to what you find.

Avoid Overloading Sockets and Cords
Do a walk-through of your home. If you see sockets with too many cords plugged in or even too many extension cords around the house, it may be time to have extra outlets installed by a professional. Always pay attention to the acceptable wattage for cords and lamps. Also look for extension cords that are “tacked up” or run under a rug as these could be a real fire hazard for kids and adults.

Another Useful tips to prevent Fire!

1) Smoke Alarms – These are still a very important addition to your home. Smoke alarms are widely available and inexpensive. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home and test it monthly.

2) Prevent Electrical Fires – Don’t overload circuits or extension cords. Cords and wires should never be placed under rugs or in high traffic areas. Avoid loose electrical connections by checking the fit of the plug in the wall outlet. If the plug loosely fits, inspect the outlet right away. A poor connection between the plug and the outlet can cause overheating and can start a fire in minutes.

3) Keep Plugs Safe – Unplug all appliances when not in use. Follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions and use your senses to spot any potential disasters. If a plug is overheating, smells strange, shorts out or sparks – the appliance should be shut off immediately, then replaced or repaired.

4) Alternate Heaters – Make sure there is ample space around any portable heating unit. Anything that could catch fire should be at least three feet away. Inspect your chimney annually and use fire screens to help keep any fires in the fireplace.

5) Fire Safety Sprinklers – When combined with working smoke alarms, home fire sprinklers greatly increase your chance of surviving a fire. Sprinklers are affordable and they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.

6) Create An Escape Route – Create and practice your escape plan with your family from every room in the house. Practice staying low to the floor and checking for hot doors using the back of your hand. It’s just like a routine school fire drill – but in your home.

7) Position Appliances Carefully – Try to keep TV sets, kitchen and other appliances away from windows with curtains. If there is a wiring problem, curtains can spread a fire quickly. Additionally, keeping your appliances away from water sources (like rain coming in from windows) can help prevent wiring damage which can lead to a fire.

8) Clean Dryer Vents – Clothes dryers often start fires in residential areas. Clean the lint filter every time you start a load of clothes to dry or after the drying cycle is complete. Make sure your exhaust duct is made of metal tubing and not plastic or foil. Clean the exhaust duct with a good quality dryer vent brush to prevent blockage & check for lint build up behind the dryer at least twice a year.

9) Be Careful around the Holidays – If you fill your home with lights during the holiday season, keep them away from anything that can easily catch fire. Check all of your lights prior to stringing them up and dispose of anything with frayed or exposed wires.

10) Conduct Regular Inspections – Check all of your electronic equipment and wiring at least once a month. Taking a little time to do this each month can really pay off.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011