Fires are frightening, destructive and deadly; however, most fires, fire deaths and injuries are preventable. Follow these fire safety tips to keep your family safe:
Install smoke detectors and check them regularly. Smoke detectors can save lives. You should have a working smoke detector on each floor of your home and outside your children’s sleeping area. Remember, most fires happen at night and have time to develop unnoticed as you and your children sleep. Replace the batteries twice a year on the same day that you change your clocks to and from daylight saving time – spring ahead, fall back.
Make a fire escape plan. Draw a map of your home showing two ways to get out of every room. Practice the plan with your family twice a year. Have a safe meeting place outside the home and teach children never to go back inside.
Be careful with electricity. Replace frayed electrical cords, including extension cords. Do not run electrical cords under rugs. Replace appliances that smoke or give off unusual odors when in use. Do not overload electrical outlets.
Keep matches and lighters away from children. Teach your children that matches and lighters are not toys. Store them out of reach of any child who may be in your home. If you must have lighters in the house, use only those that are child-resistant. Teach your children to tell you about (but not touch!) any matches or lighters they find.
Be careful when cooking. Never leave the stove unattended when you are cooking. Keep pot and panhandles turned inward – children can knock or pull down pots and pans and seriously injure themselves. Do not wear long or loose fitting sleeves when cooking, and make sure your children know that stoves and ovens are not for playing. Never throw water or flour on a grease fire because it will only make it worse!
Do not allow careless smoking in your home. Tell family members or friends who smoke to do so outside. Smoking in bed is extremely dangerous! If ashes from a burning cigarette fall onto bedding, mattresses or between pillows on a couch, they can smolder and burn, causing danger to life from fumes and fire.
Portable space heaters are a significant cause of fires in the home. Space heaters, wood stoves, corn stoves and kerosene heaters should be kept at least three feet (about an arm length) from combustible materials such as furniture, walls and curtains. Other items such as blankets, clothing and paper should be kept a safe distance from the heater. Space heaters should be turned off before you leave home or go to bed. Do not use an extension cord with a space heater!
If an item of clothing accidentally catches on fire, the quickest and safest way to put the fire out is to stop, drop and roll. Practice this technique with your children.
• Stop! Stop immediately; don’t run.
• Drop! Drop quickly to the floor or the ground.
• Roll! Cover face with hands, and roll over and over until flames go out.
Make sure children know when and how to call 911, and what to say.
For more information, read the DCFS publication Love Alone Didn’t Save Her; Practicing Fire Safety Did in English , en español or en français.