Protect Your Home and Family From The Risk Of Fire

Safe Home Sue asked:

The fire alarm wakes you in the middle of the night (you do have one installed in your home, don’t you?).  You have three sleeping children in their upstairs bedrooms. Do you know what to do? Do you have an evacuation plan and have you educated your children as to what to in case of fire?

One hundred sixty two minutes ago, someone just died in a house fire. Thirty-two minutes ago, someone was injured in a house fire.  In 2007, there were 214,000 fires that resulted in 2,895 deaths and 14,000 injuries. Most people die from smoke inhalation or toxic fumes during a house fire. Some of the causes of house fires are cooking (the number one cause), heaters, candles, arson, smoking, children playing with matches and fireplaces. Fires are estimated to cost society an unbelievable 165 billion dollars a year.  Switzerland has the lowest rate of deaths by fire, and the United States has the highest.

The people who are at risk the most are the elderly, children, the poor, African and Native Americans, people living in rural areas or substandard housing or manufactured homes, and please – don’t forget about your pets.

However, there is some good news. These numbers have been on the decline in recent years due to fire education, installation of fire alarms, sprinkler systems, fire code standards, better construction materials, better fire fighter equipment and higher training standards for firemen.

Some precautions you can implement to minimize the risk of a house fire are check your furnace every year, keep all flammable materials away from the furnace, use extreme caution when using a space heater. You can have your fireplace chimney cleaned and use a screen to prevent sparks from igniting rugs, furniture or anything in the room, keep the lint screen free from lint in your dryer and make sure the dryer vent is outside your home. Don’t overload outlets with power strips, if possible try not to use extension cords as they can overheat easily (and never use one that is damaged or frayed), keep the television away from the wall to prevent overheating, do not smoke when you are in bed, tired, or have been drinking.  Keep matches away from children and never leave them alone when there is a fire in the fireplace or a space heater in the room. And always have a watchful eye when you burn a candle, never leaving one burning while you are sleeping. Place your candles on a surface made particularly for candles.  Since cooking is the number one cause of house fires, never leave a pan unattended on the stove – not even for a minute!

It is good to have on hand a fire extinguisher (and know how to use it), install smoke detectors on every floor, especially near the bedroom, kitchen and laundry room, checking the batteries every year, especially if you live in an apartment that doesn’t have a sprinkler system. And the latest form of protection is to have smoke hoods for everyone in the house which will provide a way to breath safely in the event of a house on fire as the smoke is the most common reason for death in a house fire.

In a matter of moments, you can lose everything or those you love. Time is the most precious thing if there is a house fire. Don’t waste it by being unprepared or uneducated. Start today and take the steps needed to protect you and your loved ones.

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