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Fire Prevention Week: Keep your home and family safe from fire

fireman battle a house fireFire is the third leading cause of death for children ages 1-14.

Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 6-12, is the perfect time to review and practice your family’s escape plan.

The No. 1 rule if a fire happens in your home: Get out, stay out and call for help. Never go back inside for anyone or anything. Call the fire department from outside your home.

The good news: Over the past several decades, deaths from home fires in the U.S. have steadily gone down — from 5,200 in 1980 to 2,710 in 2017, according to Injury Facts.

But even one death from a preventable fire is too many. While fire doesn’t discriminate by age, it is the third leading cause of death for children ages 1-14. In 2017, 127 children in this age group died from fire and smoke inhalation.

Cooking fires

Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries. While cooking, make fire safety a priority by keeping these tips in mind:

  • Be alert; if you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the oven or stovetop.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food.
  • When simmering, baking or roasting, check the food regularly, remain in the kitchen while cooking, and use a timer.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stovetop.

Fires related to heating

Heating is the second leading cause of home fires. Follow these tips from the American Red Cross:

  • Keep all flammables like paper, clothing, bedding, drapes or rugs at least 3 feet from a space heater, stove or fireplace.
  • Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended; turn off heaters and make sure fireplace embers are extinguished before leaving the room.
  • If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, nonflammable surface like ceramic tile, not on a rug or carpet.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  • When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over.

Other fire risks

Other top causes of fire include smoking, electrical problems and candles. To minimize risks:

  • Institute a no-smoking policy in the house.
  • Check all cords and replace any that are frayed or have bare wires.
  • Switch to flameless candles.
  • Keep matches and lighters high and out of children’s reach in a locked cabinet.

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