By: Marta Rusek
Now that pumpkin season is in full swing and temps are on the descent, it’s time to break out the puffy vest and serve up some hot apple cider. It’s also the time when you suddenly notice your thermostat, the fireplace, and that space heater you had stored in your coat closet all summer long. So as you snuggle into nesting season, take a few moments to make your household is fire safe. Here’s how:
Test your smoke alarms and review your home fire escape plan.
While you’re up on the ladder hanging your Halloween skeleton, hit the test button on your smoke alarms and replace batteries as needed. Fully functional smoke alarms are true lifesavers: The National Fire Protection Association reports that three out of every five home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms, or nonfunctioning ones. Moreover, in nearly half of fires where a smoke alarm didn’t work properly, it was due to missing or disconnected batteries. Equally important is having a dialogue with your household members about a fire escape plan. Everyone in the home should be able to escape in under two minutes. Talk about it.
Follow space heater safety guidelines.
A recent Red Cross survey found that more than half of U.S. adults have used a space heater. These devices are so widely used that they’re involved in two out of every five home-heating fires. To prevent a fire emergency, make sure to allow three feet of open space around your heater. Do not place a space heater on a carpeted area or rug, and keep it away from curtains and bedding. Place it on a ceramic tile floor if possible, or choose or a surface is hard, fireproof, and level (not slanted or uneven). Never leave a space heater unattended. That means turning it off when you go to sleep.
Be mindful of burning candles and fireplaces.
If you just can’t give up your candle-lighting habit, you’ll need to be vigilant. A candle can go from a fall mood-setter to a bad dream in no time, so never leave candles unattended and keep them away from kids and pets. And think about flameless candles! If your home has a fireplace, use a protective screen—and heed the same precautions as you would with a space heater. Keep furniture, fabric, and flammable decorations at least three feet away and never leave it unattended.
Fall is a time to be festive and celebrate longstanding traditions. Make fire safety and prevention part of your fall traditions too. Fore more information about fire safety, redcross.org/get-help and click on “How to Prepare for Emergencies.”