Cara Fast, manager of the Safety Store at Riley Hospital for Children, discusses family fire prevention and safety in recognition of Fire Prevention Week.
How can parents help prevent fires from occurring in the home?
For starters, keep all things that are flammable – paper, bedding or furniture – at least three feet from heat sources. Also, purchase at least one fire extinguisher for your home and properly install smoke alarms inside and outside sleeping areas on every level of your home. When it comes to children, keep them away from matches and lighters as well as out of the kitchen, where they’re likely to get burned.
What fire safety topics should parents go over with their children?
Preparation is the key to surviving a fire. Consequently, parents should craft and go over a family fire escape plan with their children. Tell children to crawl low under smoke to be able to breathe fresh air and avoid poisonous gases. Go over “stop, drop and roll,” which is where you roll repeatedly to put flames out when your hair or clothes are on fire. Identify and inform children to not touch hot things or things that can get hot. Make sure your children are able to recognize a firefighter in full gear and they know the sound of a smoke alarm and what to do when they hear that sound.
How does a family go about setting up a fire escape plan with their children?
Ask children to help create your family’s fire escape plan and make sure to practice it! Use a large sheet of paper to show three things: every room in your house, two ways out of every room and your family’s meeting place where everyone meets and stays once outside your home.
Also, make sure to plan ahead by storing your family’s medical information in a safe or convenient spot (i.e., a flash drive on a key chain). If your child has disabilities or other health care needs, make him or her wear a medical alert bracelet and alert your local fire department of any special needs.
How are children most likely to be hurt in a house fire?
Children are most likely to be overcome by smoke inhalation because they are afraid, do not know what to do or hide from a firefighter. One step parents can take is to check smoke detectors monthly to make sure they are working properly and to change the batteries at least twice per year.
Causes of fires
Following are some leading causes of household fires:
Electrical: faulty wiring, outlets, electrical wiring
Heating: space heaters, kerosene, oil, or propane-fueled stoves
Smoking: cigarette, pipe, cigar smoking
Candles: especially during the holidays
Cooking: unattended stoves
Appliances: not cleaning dryer vents after each cycle
Children playing with matches or lighters
For more information, call (888) 365-2022 (toll-free), or visit www.rileyhospital.org.