October is Fire Prevention Month
With cooler weather coming to even our area over the next few months, now is the time to make sure you are prepared in case of a fire in your home or place of business. Almost all fires are preventable, but when they happen, they can cause damage, stress, and loss to your family, possessions, and home.
Following are some tips that can help you ensure your family, home, and business are protected and prepared in the event there is a fire.
Cooking and heating are the leading causes of home fires and fire injuries and winter is the peak time for fire related deaths and injuries. Minimize your risk when cooking:
- Be alert; if you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the oven or stovetop
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food
- When simmering, baking or roasting, check the food regularly, remain in the kitchen while cooking and use a timer
- Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stovetop
Heating is the second leading cause of home fires. Follow these tips from the American Red Cross (PS: It does get cold enough in Florida that you will need to heat your home!)
- Keep all flammables, like paper, clothing, bedding, drapes or rugs, at least 3 feet from a space heater, stove or fireplace
- Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended; turn off heaters and make sure fireplace embers are extinguished before leaving the room
- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, nonflammable surface, like ceramic tile, not on a rug or carpet
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters
- When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over
Along with cooking and heating, other top causes of fire include smoking, electrical problems and candles. To minimize risks:
- Institute a “no smoking” policy in the house
- Check all cords and replace any that are frayed or have bare wires
- Switch to flameless candles
- Keep matches and lighters high and out of children’s reach in a locked cabinet
Along with these tips to prevent fires, it is essential that your home and business are prepared in case there is a fire. That means:
- Have an escape plan! Review it with the family and coworkers/staff to ensure everyone knows how to exit the building, where to meet, and how to provide first aid if necessary.
- Check your smoke alarms and change the batteries at least once a year.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas on the ceiling or high on the wall
- Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen, at least 10 feet from the stove, to reduce false alarms
- Use special alarms with strobe lights and bed shakers for people who are hard of hearing or deaf
By being prepared and knowing your plan, you and your family will be able to rest easier and have a greater chance of surviving a home fire.