February 15, 2014 by

With the winter months upon us, families nestle in their homes trying to stay warm, spending time by the fireplace and preparing comfort foods. As the temperature drops, residential house fires occurrences rise. Several factors contribute to the increase, including the use of personal heating devices, candles, and unattended cooking equipment.

Knowing how to prevent household fires, along with what to do when a fire occurs, will be beneficial to your family when every minute matters.

Start with prevention

The National Fire Prevention Association suggests your family start with the basics by:

  • Checking your household smoke detectors monthly;
  • Replacing batteries in smoke detectors annually;
  • Ensuring that your house or building number is visible from the street;
  • Memorizing the emergency phone number to the fire department;
  • Ensuring all exits are properly working and free of obstructions, specifically windows;
  • Designing a home fire escape plan.

They also recommend that families conduct a fire safety walkthrough of their home monthly to eliminate any potential fire hazards such as overloaded electrical circuits or faulty wiring.

Have a basic plan

Boys Town Pediatrics knows that developing a plan is important for those times when seconds are critical. Making a family fire escape plan can be a great opportunity to remind children about the importance of safety. Designing a fire escape plan can be easy with the following steps:

  1. Make a map of your house’s layout, showing all windows and doors.
  2. On the plan, make note of two exits out of every room, including the quickest exit outside.
  3. Pick a meeting spot outside the house where the family will gather after an emergency happens.
  4. Go over the basics in fire safety such as staying low to keep out of the smoke, never opening doors that are hot to the touch, and how to find the most immediate and safest route out.

Test the plan

The best way to ensure your plan will work is to hold a fire drill. Inform the family that there will be a fire drill within the next week. Waking your child in the middle of the night may be alarming, but we advise planning a drill in both the evening when it is dark as well as during the day.

After the mock drill, tweak your plan as needed. Remember to revisit the family fire escape plan every six months or after a child has changed rooms.

For more information on fire prevention and safety, visit the U.S. Fire Administration website at www.usfa.fema.gov.

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