Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Home Fire Safety 101

Whitney Haddix, MD
UNC Pediatric Resident, Primary Care Track

Whenever discussing injuries and injury prevention, we must talk about fire safety.  It is important for families to know what they can do to prevent fires and fire injuries in their homes.  With National Fire Prevention Week coming up this October 7th through 13th, lets talk about some basic home fire prevention tips. 

  1. Have a fire escape plan and practice it!  An NFPA survey showed only one-third of Americans have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.  This year’s National Fire Prevention week’s theme is “Have 2 Ways Out!” – meaning that families should have a back up plan in the event that one escape route is blocked by smoke or fire.  You should have two escape plans from each room of your home.  Remember, if there is a fire in your home, get everyone out safely, then call 911.  Never go back inside a home that is on fire.
  2. Install smoke alarms on each floor of your home and in each bedroom and test them monthly.  Fire safety experts also recommend using “Dual Sensor Smoke Alarms” that detect fire with flames and fire that has fumes without flames.  If you are renting, your landlord should provide smoke alarms for your home, but you will still need to check and replace the batteries.
  3. Never leave food cooking unattended on a stove and keep cooking areas free of pot holders, towels, etc. (anything flammable).  Cooking fires are the leading cause of fires and fire injuries in the United States.
  4. Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children.  They should be stored in a safe, out of reach place and locked away if possible. 
  5. Never leave cigarettes or candles unattended.  These should also be kept out of the reach of children.

As you practice these tips, be sure to involve your children.  Let them help you move the pot holders and towels away from the stove in the kitchen.  Teach them that lighters and matches are for grown ups and that they should let an adult know if they find any of these items.  Practice your family’s escape plan yearly; maybe your family will choose Fire Prevention Week every October to practice!

The best way to stop a fire is to prevent it from starting.  However, if a fire does start in your home, having a plan will help keep you and your family safe. 

Additional Resources:
  1. http://www.usfa.fema.gov/kids/flash.shtm
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Fire-Prevention/index.html
  3. http://www.nfpa.org/categoryList.asp?categoryID=2017&URL=Safety%20Information/Fire%20Prevention%20Week