Do a Smoke Alarm Audit
Check all existing smoke alarms for functionality and re-evaluate where they need to be placed. (If you don’t have UL listed smoke alarms, make a plan to install them on each level of the home, especially near sleeping areas). Smoke rises, so smoke alarms should be located on a ceiling or high on a wall. Alarms mounted on the ceiling should be at least four inches away from the nearest wall and those mounted on walls should be four to twelve inches down from the ceiling. Test your alarms and be sure that they can be heard in bedrooms even when the doors are closed. If not, install smoke alarms in the bedrooms. Make sure that your kids know what the alarms sound like. Replace alarms that are older than 10 years and replace any alarm that has been painted over.
Make Extinguishers Handy
Be sure that you have at least one UL listed fire extinguisher in your home. An ABC-type extinguisher is a good all-purpose choice for fires in the home. Check the gauge located on the extinguisher to see if it needs to be replaced or recharged. Also be sure that the fire extinguisher is in an easily accessible location. Remember that fire extinguishers are not designed to fight large or spreading fires. Your number one priority is to have an escape plan and to get out safely. If the fire is small and contained and the room is not filled with smoke, get everyone out and call the fire department; then, you may use the fire extinguisher to control the fire.
Talk Prevention with Your Kids
Talk to your kids about how they can prevent fires. Children under age five are especially curious about fire and need to start learning about the tremendous danger. Take the mystery out of fire and make sure that your kids know the following safety tips:
* Never play with matches, lighters or candles.
* Never play with electrical cords and never put anything in a socket.
* Blankets or clothes should never be thrown on top of lamps.
* Don’t turn up a heater without a grown-up’s permission.
* If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll.
Look at Your Home From Your Child’s Perspective
Think about how your child is exposed to fire hazards in your home by getting down on your hands and knees with them and taking a look around. Be aware of any dangling cords that could cause a problem if pulled. Enticing heaters and other appliances may also be hazardous. Make adjustments to your home according to what you find.
Avoid Overloading Sockets and Cords
Do a walk-through of your home. If you see sockets with too many cords plugged in or even too many extension cords around the house, it may be time to have extra outlets installed by a professional. Always pay attention to the acceptable wattage for cords and lamps. Also look for extension cords that are “tacked up” or run under a rug as these could be a real fire hazard for kids and adults.