Does your family practice fire safety rules? While it is a scary thought, fires do happen, and it is best to have your family prepared, so that everyone knows what to do in an emergency. I have partnered with First Alert and the Mom It Forward Influencer Network to bring you these family fire safety rules.
This post was also inspired by a couple of house fires that recently happened in our community. Personally, a house fire is one of my biggest fears as a parent. Hearing about house fires on the neighborhood always spurs me to do more to protect my family as best as I can. I never want to look back and say to myself that I could have done more.
This month is also Fire Prevention Month. I am using this opportunity to spread awareness about fire safety. While we can never be fully prepared for something as devastating as a house fire, we can certainly do our best to instill safe practices and some ground rules for ourselves and our children.
Fire Prevention Month is the perfect time to do a home fire safety checklist. Things on a checklist can include:
- Testing the functionality and placement of all your alarms
- Keeping track of expiration dates
- Planning and practicing your family’s escape route.
This would also be a good time to clean out the chimneys and furnace before the winter season, and ensuring that your dryer vents are clean.
Don’t be a statistic: nearly 3000 Americans die from house fires each year, so the least we can do is to be prepared!
Children can start learning about fire safety from a very young age. My son was barely three years old when he learned about stop-drop-roll in his day care, and I even recall him telling me about feeling the doors to check if they are hot or not.
While your children will learn some important fire safety rules in schools, it’s important to take what they learn and expand on it and apply it to your own home. Review these fire safety rules with your family as often as you see fit; repetition and review are vital to remembering in a crisis.
9 Family Fire Safety Rules
1. Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
This rule is number one for good reason. It is of utmost importance that your home is properly fitted with enough carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms. The amount you need will depend on the size of your home. Every home has different needs, and you need to consider what it is your home needs to be properly equipped with both smoke and CO alarms. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends one on each level and in every bedroom.
Alarms do not last forever- don’t forget to regularly test and replace alarms and detectors as needed, and replace your alarms every ten years.
When you replace your alarms, make sure to replace them with devices that have 10-year sealed batteries. These alarms from First Alert offer tamper-resistant reliability, and you won’t need to replace the batteries for the ten year life of the alarm. A variety of alarms are available to meet your specific needs and your local legislation requirements.
First Alert offers a variety of alarms to suit your needs.
- The 10 Year Atom Smoke Alarm makes for a nicer smoke alarm, ideal for bedrooms.
- The 10 Year Battery Dual Sensing PhotoElectric & Ionization Alarm is a great choice for overall protection as it contains both types of smoke sensors recommended by the NFPA.
- The 10 Year Sealed PhotoElectric Combination Alarm is a handy piece that provides both smoke and carbon monoxide safety.
- The 10 Year Sealed MultiFunction CO Alarm is a modern, stylish alarm that can be displayed table-top in any room in the house.
2. Fire Extinguishers
As a child I recall always having a fire extinguisher under the kitchen sink, As an adult, though, I realized I had no idea how to use one! A fire extinguisher is so important to keep in your home, but even more important is learning how to use one correctly.
Place a fire extinguisher in every area you feel necessary. For example, the kitchen, garage, and a central area near bedrooms is a good place to start.
3. Have an Escape Plan
Whether you live in an apartment, a private home or any other type of home, you must create an escape plan for your family. Repeat, repeat, repeat the locations of all exits in case of a fire. You should be able to identify two ways out of each room (including windows and doors), and make sure everyone in the home understands the plan.
An escape route- both planned and practiced- is an essential part of fire safety. According to new research from Frist Alert, only 27% of families have included a meeting spot in their escape plans. Agree on a central location to meet at once outside so you can do a head count at a safe distance from the house- this can be a specific tree, or fence, or a neighbors yard.
Do you have an artist in the family? Let an older child draw the escape plan so that everyone has a clear view of how to get out of the house in case of an emergency. Involving the children is a great way to get them to be proactive about fire safety.
Instruct your children to never go back into a home or building on fire once they are safely out. Call for help, and let the firefighters do their jobs.
4. Fire Drills
Fire drills are not just for schools. You may handle it differently, but an escape plan on paper is not enough! Make sure to practice your escape plans, including teaching the children to stay low as they exit, and to check closed doors with the back of their hands that may be hot to the touch. Teaching children the stop-drop-roll rule is also important- my son regularly practices stopping, falling to the ground and rolling over and over to extinguish imaginary flames.
An easy mantra to teach your children in case of fire is “Don’t hide, go outside!” Hiding from a scary fire can be instinctive in a young child. Instill in them the safe practice of getting out, out, out.
5. Don’t Forget the Dryer Vents
Keeping your dryer vents clean is very important. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, a whopping 34% of house fires start from a failure to clean the dryer. This is especially prevalent in the fall and winter and also applies to chimneys and furnaces.
6. Kitchen Fires
Kitchens are a notoriously dangerous place for fires to start. Never leave cooking food unattended, even for a moment. Be alert for overflowing pots, grease fires and drips in the oven. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, do not cook. Your reactions will be impaired.
Teach your family how to put out different kinds of kitchen fires. Don’t forget- if you cannot put out the fire after a few attempts, GET OUT! Take your family, leave the house and call 911. It is not worth the risk to fight something that is bigger and stronger than you are.
Don’t use your oven as a closet. Storing flammable items in there, even if you are sure you will remember to remove them before turning the oven on, is dangerous and reckless.
There are a few ways to combat kitchen fires.
- Always start by turning off the heat source; this may very well take care of the fire on its own.
- Have metal cookie sheets in easy reach to cover flames with. (Do not remove cookie sheets until it has cooled.) This will cut off the fire’s oxygen supply.
- Baking soda is a great aid in grease fires, if the fire is small, and it is also something to always have in a place you can easily access. Water is a no-no for grease fires.
- If the fire is in the oven, do not open the door. Fire needs oxygen to thrive, so opening the oven door is a big mistake. Turn the oven off, back away and either wait for the fire to die down on its own or call for help. I have personal experience with this!
7. Be Wary of Your Clothes
Children should sleep in tight fitted pajamas. The tighter the fit, the less of a chance a fluttering sleeve catching fire. This also applies to the clothes you wear in the kitchen. Bell sleeves, scarves and loose bathrobes are dangerous to wear while cooking and baking and can catch fire very quickly.
8. Limit Access to Lighters and Matches
As a parent, this one sounds kind of obvious. But it bears repeating. Look at fire from a child’s perspective. Fire and flames are beautiful, intriguing and pretty cool (when it’s not destroying everything you own.) Even adults find fire fascinating.
Keep your matches and lighters in a high, locked cabinet. If you are not using all the burners on your stove-top at once, utilize only the ones in the back to decrease the chance that some curious hands at stove-top level will try to “fan the flames”.
9. Local Emergency Numbers
Keep your local emergency numbers in easy view of telephones and speed dials. Review the numbers with your children, though you may want to emphasize the point of only calling in case of emergency.
Fires can be terrifying, but preparing our children from a young age can prove vital in face of crisis. Learn more about First Alert’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors here!
How do you teach fire safety to your family? Do you do something different than the fire safety rules mentioned here? Comment below!