What Parents Need To Know to Prevent House Fires
A fire is a devastating and frightening event that can put our homes and families in grave danger. Unfortunately, fires occur more often than most of us realize, with fire departments across the United States responding to a home fire every 88 seconds.
This statistic alone highlights the importance of preparing and protecting our families against the threat of fire. In this article, we will delve into the steps you can take to prevent a fire in your home and ensure that your family is ready to respond in the event of an emergency.
The Reality of Fire
One of the biggest misconceptions about fire is that it spreads at a slow and manageable pace. In reality, fire can spread incredibly quickly, often faster than you can run. This misconception is perpetuated by movies and TV shows, where heroes run into burning rooms to save people without being affected by the heat and smoke. This is not the reality of fire, as it is hot, nasty, and deadly.
Fire Prevention Starts in the Kitchen
The first step in preventing a fire in your home is to be extra careful in the kitchen. The number one cause of home fires in the United States is unattended cooking. With this in mind, it's crucial to keep an eye on what's going on in the kitchen, especially when children are present. If you have young children, you can have them help you in the kitchen, which will give you the chance to supervise them while also keeping an eye on the stove.
Another critical aspect of fire safety is ensuring that you have working smoke detectors in your home. Smoke detectors can be the only warning you receive when you're asleep, so it's crucial that they are in good working order. Make sure that you have smoke detectors in your kitchen, hallways near bedrooms, basement, and attic, at a minimum.
Additionally, it's important to note that not everyone in your home may be able to hear the smoke detector and wake up, particularly young children. A study in the United Kingdom found that 80% of children between the ages of 2 and 13 do not respond to smoke alarm sounds when sleeping. With this in mind, it's crucial to have an adult in charge of retrieving any children who may not wake up when the smoke detector sounds.
Make a Plan Before the Smoke
Of course, you want to have a family fire escape plan. The essential elements for the plan are to know all of the exits from the home. This can be the front door, out the back, or even out of a window. If there are small children or older adults in the home, make sure someone is assigned to get these people out. Assign a backup person as well in case the primary is not at home.
Then once outside make a rallying point for everyone to meet. This needs to be a good distance from the house as the heat and flames may still be an issue. So maybe a neighbor’s mailbox or porch. Have one person call 911 with their cell phone or go to a neighbor’s home for help.
Don’t just make a plan and hope everyone follows it. Practice it at least twice a year. There’s no need to trigger the alarms, just yell something like “Fire Drill” and let everyone jump into action.
Fire Extinguishers Are Your Friend
It's also important to own at least two fire extinguishers and know how to use them. Place one in your kitchen, as that is the room where a fire is most likely to start, and another near the bedrooms.
If you have never used a fire extinguisher before, it's important to know the widely accepted acronym "PASS" to put out a fire. P stands for pull the pin, A stands for aim low, S stands for squeeze the lever evenly and slowly, and the last S stands for sweep, which involves moving the nozzle from side to side to maximize the spray and increase your chances of putting out the fire.
Escape a Multi-story Home
Finally, if you live in a multi-story home, it's essential to have a fire escape ladder on hand. These ladders come in a box and can be stored just about anywhere. In the event of a fire, you and your family can use the ladder to escape from a window and climb down to safety. To maximize safety, it's recommended to have a fire escape ladder in each rally point inside the home, as well as a fire escape plan in place.
In conclusion, fire is a serious threat that can cause devastating harm to our homes and families. By being mindful of the risks, having working smoke detectors, owning fire extinguishers, and having a fire escape plan in place, we can protect our families and ensure that we are ready to respond in the event of a fire. Planning ahead and being prepared can make all the difference in the world when it comes to fire safety.