By Grace Nava
Every fall we mark National Fire Safety/Fire Prevention Week. As the weather gets colder, the number of fires typically increases dramatically. Considering that, on average, 7 people die every day from home fires, fire prevention is a serious business.
The American Red Cross is very proud of its programs related to fire prevention and their wonderful results:
The Pillowcase Project. Learn. Practice. Share. Originally created by an American Red Cross Chapter in Southern Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it was developed in part as an art therapy program to help children cope with the traumatic effects of the disaster, but it evolved into a nationwide prevention program. The children decorate pillow cases which they use to create an emergency kit. They also learn about fire safety and are encouraged to share their gained knowledge with their parents and caregivers. So far, 1,207,470 children have been reached through this campaign!
Sound the Alarm. Save a Life. Almost one and a half million free smoke alarms have been installed in high risk neighborhoods since the program started in 2014. During “Sound the Alarm 2018,” volunteers installed 122,259 smoke alarms and raised over $15,400,000 during a two-week blitz. Sound the Alarm, Safe a Life events take place in the spring.
However, winter months are when the American Red Cross responds to most fires. Home heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires (cooking is number one). This includes the use of space heaters that overload electric circuits. This is particularly a problem in older homes that may have outdated wiring. In order to prevent a fire, keep the following tips in mind:
Around the House:
- Never leave candles unattended, that includes leaving candles lit while you sleep.
- Keep lit candles way out of the reach of small children and pets.
- Do not overload electric circuits by plugging multiple heat producing devices into one outlet.
- Avoid heaters with open heat elements.
- Never smoke in bed or leave lit cigarettes unattended.
- Unplug your Christmas tree lights when you go to bed.
In the Kitchen:
- When cooking, don’t leave anything flammable such as mittens or wooden utensils near an open flame.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, but don’t try to put out a fire that is too big for your extinguisher.
- Don’t leave food being cooked unattended.
- Check your smoke alarms. Preferably, put a fresh battery at the beginning of winter. If you need smoke alarms, you can contact us here.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector if you have an attached garage or any fuel burning heating system that uses gas, oil, coal, or wood.
- Have an emergency evacuation plan and practice it with your family.
Once a fire starts, leave the home or building immediately. Fires can spread extremely fast and the smoke is very toxic. Stay warm and safe this winter!