October is National Fire Safety Month. Across America, firefighters will visit schools and teach students about fire safety. Adhesive badges, small toys and sometimes, plastic red helmets are given to the students to encourage thinking about fire safety.
Fire safety isn’t just for the kids. Statistics listed on the United States Fire Administration website indicated there were 1.3 million fires, 26,500 of which were intentionally set. That leaves a staggering 1,273,500 preventable fires and over $1.24316 billion in preventable damages. That’s just too much.
Here are 25 tips to stay safe and prevent fires:
1. Never leave children alone with matches, lighters, candles or fireplaces.
2. If something falls under a bed or sofa, use a flashlight instead of a candle to look for it.
3. Never use an accelerant to start a fire in a fireplace or gas range. An accelerant is gasoline, lighter fluid, etc.
4. Never set a propane deep fryer, used to deep-fry turkeys, near the house. The boiling oil can catch fire if the fryer tips over.
5. Only use charcoal lighter fluid in a barbeque. Never use gasoline or anything else.
6. Sit down with the family and have an escape plan with fire drills, the same as schools and workplaces. In the event of a real fire, people will follow their training.
7. Have a meeting place for the entire family if an evacuation happens.
8. Never run back into a fire for an inanimate object.
9. Make sure the proper number of smoke detectors are installed and working correctly. During the month of October, replace the batteries and test the unit to ensure it’s working.
10. Keep a proper ABC fire extinguisher in the kitchen and familiarize everyone with its use. A is for wood and paper, B is for grease, oil, etc. and C is for electrical fires. Keep it properly maintained.
11. Only burn proper materials in a fireplace, such as wood, commercial fire logs, and so forth. Never burn fabrics, trash, leftover Christmas trees, etc.
12. Maintain fireplace chimneys each year by having a licensed chimney sweep clean and inspect the chimney and flue. Make all necessary repairs before starting a fire.
13. In the event of a grease fire in a cooking pan, place a lid over the pan and turn off the heat underneath. Never try to carry a pan full of burning grease to the sink.
14. Never throw water into a burning pan of grease- it will explode and injure anyone standing near. It will also spread fire to the kitchen.
15. If a fire has gotten out of control, call the fire department and leave the house. Do not try to fight it yourself.
16. If a fire is suspected in a hallway, feel the door with your hand. If the door is hot, don’t touch the handle- fire is on the other side of the door. Get out.
17. If your clothing catches fire, remember the rule- STOP running. DROP to the ground. ROLL to put out the flames.
18. Take first aid courses to help someone who has been injured by burns or during an evacuation. Do not try to pull clothing off burned skin. Learn what to do.
19. If an adult in the home is elderly, take care to ensure their safety with matches, cigarettes, or in the kitchen. Sometimes an elderly person forgets these things are on.
20. If a person in the home smokes or smokes and drinks, care must be taken to ensure all cigarettes are properly extinguished.
21. During the Holidays, turn off all tree lights and outdoor accent lights before going to bed.
22. If a fuse has worked loose in the fuse box, never try to use a penny or other metal to ensure the connection. Call an electrician instead.
23. When cleaning out the fireplace, place the ashes in a metal bucket outside. Do not assume the ashes are cold even if the fireplace hasn’t been used in days.
24. Never use any flammable product(s) near a gas water heater. A “bug bomb” inside the water heater closet will cause an explosion.
25. Never overload an electrical outlet. If the room does not have enough outlets to power the needed electrical devices, call an electrician and have another circuit and outlet(s) installed.
A room can become engulfed in flames within two minutes of a cigarette or match falling into a sofa or a waste can. It is imperative that safety become as important as what to watch on television.
The author of this article is a former Firefighter and Paramedic and has several years of experience in public safety training as well as fighting fires.