Fire safety tips to help prevent fires and burns

Fire safety and fire prevention are the responsibility of the whole family.  October 6 to 12 marks Fire Prevention Week. Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 blaze that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. During this week, the National Fire Protection Association urges the testing of home smoke alarms to ensure they are in working order.

“Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and in every sleeping area. Check the batteries monthly,” said Sharon Rengers, R.N., manager with Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness. “It also is important to install a carbon monoxide detector.”

Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness recommends following these fire prevention guidelines:

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  • Place a smoke detector in/near each bedroom or sleeping area. People who are asleep have the greatest risk of dying in fires. Toxic gases and smoke lull them into a deeper sleep, eventually killing them.
  • Place a smoke detector on each level of the home. If you live in a multilevel home, one detector on every level can provide up to three minutes to escape
  • Position smoke detectors on ceilings or high walls. Smoke rises, so detectors should be placed high, and close to the middle of the room
  • Do not place the smoke detector on a wall that faces the outside if you live in a poorly insulated or mobile home. The temperature of the wall may vary and cause the detector to malfunction.
  • Position the detector away from cooking or furnace fumes, fireplace smoke and dust to reduce unwanted alarms. The best location is 3 feet away from an air vent or air conditioning unit, since they can inhibit the detector’s ability to sense smoke.
  • Test detectors once a month. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for testing and maintenance.
  • Clean the detector regularly. Dirt can “confuse” the detector and lead to false alarms or impair its ability to detect smoke.
  • Replace the batteries in your detector at least once a year. The best way to remember to change the batteries in your smoke detector is to change them when you change your clocks from standard to daylight saving time.

“Practice an escape plan with your child. Make sure exit routes are not blocked by furniture or heavy objects. Designate two different routes in case one is blocked by fire,” Sharon said. “Have an assigned meeting place outside the house so everyone knows where to go to be accounted for.”


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