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Holiday and Winter Fire Safety

By Sylvia Ney

Education about fire prevention is important, probably more now than ever, due to an increase in flammable products in the household.

Fire Fighter Nation officials say recent studies have found that many fires are reaching flashover in under four minutes, well before units can operate on the scene. Studies also show that fuel loads in today’s fires are producing products of combustion (smoke) at a volume drastically higher than that of fires in the past. (Read the complete article here: http://www.firefighternation.com/article/fire-prevention-and-education/public-education-messages-should-reflect-research)

According to www.nfpa.org/education, on average, a candle fire in the home is reported to a U.S. fire department every thirty minutes. Roughly two-fifths of candle fires start in the bedroom, and more than half of all candle fires start when things that can burn are too close to the candle. Below is a list of preventions to keep in mind. While many may seem common sense, studies prove that many home fires are caused by failure to take these precautions.

If you have a real Christmas tree, keep it watered and away from heat sources, sparks or flames.

  • Use only UL-approved lights and wiring, and do not overload connections.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended.
  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • Never attempt to heat your home with the oven. (Call 311 to report no heat).
  • Use only UL-approved space heaters, and keep them away from furniture, bedding, curtains and other flammable material. At least three feet of space is recommended around all heaters.
  • If you smoke, keep matches and lighters on your person or locked away. Do not smoke in bed, and make sure all cigarette butts are extinguished before discarding.
  • Make sure you always have a properly working smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home. Batteries should be replaced once a year. Detectors should be replaced every ten years.
  • Use an extension cord only for temporary events, such as drilling a hole. Power strips or permanent wiring should be used for most other applications.
  • Be sure the address numbers on your house are visible from the street or apartment numbers are visible from the hall.
  • Staying on top of general housekeeping can limit the combustible (clutter) and flammable products in your home and garage.
  • Sleep with your bedroom doors fully closed to help keep smoke out in the event of a fire.

Teaching your children about fire safety is just as important. Try giving them some sample questions such as below, and fill in the answers together:

  1. I had my parents set off the smoke detector so I could hear what it sounded like, and it sounded…
  2. I learned at least two ways out of my house. They are…
  3. I practiced rolling out of my own bed, and it was…
  4. If the second way out of my bedroom is a window, my parents watched me unlock and open it. It was…
  5. Since sleeping with the bedroom door fully closed is much safer in the event of a fire, I talked to my parents about it and they…
  6. I talked with my family about a meeting place in the event of a fire. We agreed that it would be at…
  7. If the second way out of my bedroom is a second story (or higher) window, I have a rope or ladder to climb down, and my parents told me…
  8. If the second way out of my bedroom is a basement window, I have an easy way to climb up to the window and get out. This is how…
  9. I have memorized my home address and telephone number. They are…
  10. The closest fire station to my home is located at…
  11. The batteries in the smoke detectors were last changed…
  12. We have at least one smoke detector on each level of our home, and it/they are located…
  13. We practiced our Home Fire Exit Drill and it went…
  14. I learned that most fire deaths occur when…
  15. I also learned that most fire deaths occur in…
  16. And the cause of most fire deaths is…

If you or your family has any questions regarding fire safety, please call your local City Fire Marshal.

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