As the head of your household, you have a long list of responsibilities. You’re the family’s financial expert, an organizational whiz, chief cook, head chauffer, homework monitor and schedule juggler. By default, you’re also your family’s fire prevention expert. The following are some tips to assist with your fire safety responsibilities.
Survey the Smoke Detectors
How old are the smoke alarms in your house? If you’re not certain, purchase new ones. Then, enlist your children to take an interest in fire safety by helping you install the new smoke detectors. Ask your kids to help you check the detectors’ batteries on the first day of each month.
Use Caution in the Kitchen
Anyone who has children knows how easily kids can get distracted. Unfortunately, if they get side-tracked after they’ve started cooking, the result can be catastrophic. Most fires that occur in the home begin in the kitchen, with cooking left unattended being the leading source of fires. As your household’s manager, it’s your responsibility to establish and enforce these kitchen safety rules:
- Stay in the kitchen while cooking.
- Clean up as you go. Don’t leave food packaging on the counter, where it might touch a hot burner.
- Set the kitchen timer and use yourphone’s alarm to remind you that something is on the stove.
- Don’t use water on a grease fire, which will spread the fire. Instead, quickly smother the fire using the pan’s lid.
- Use potholders to handle hot pans. Don’t use dish towels, paper towels or anything else that’s flimsy and mightcome in contactwith a hot burner.
- Store a fire extinguisher near the kitchenentrance and make sure everyone knows how to use it. Teach the acronym PASS: Pull out the pin; Aim at the base of the fire; Squeeze the handle; Sweep from side to side until the fire is extinguished.
Design and Practice a Fire-Escape Route
Fires begin unexpectedly and spread quickly. Your family might have less than two minutes to escape your house during a fire. It’s your responsibility to create a fire escape plan and practice it with your children until everyone can escape your home within that two-minute window of time.
- Have at least two escape routes to exit your home and keep those paths clear of shoes, toys, coats and anything else that tends to end up on the floor.
- Make sure your kids know how to open locked windows and how to use fire escape ladders.
- Practice the escape routes with your children while the lights are turned off because that’s what conditions will be like during a fire. Have your children take turns leading each drill.
- Explain to your kids that smoke rises, and that’s why they’ll need to escape while being low to the ground.
- Teach your children to touch a door and check for heat before opening it.
- Make sure the family pets are microchipped and wearing collars with identification tags. Keep extra leashes near each exit.
Teach Your Kids to Escape a Fire
- Instruct your kids to exit the home as soon as a smoke detector sounds and not go back inside. Call 911 from outside.
- Decide on an outdoor meeting place for everyone. Arriving firefighters will ask if anyone is still inside the house. You need to know the answer so first responders don’t risk their lives.
- If any family members or pets remain inside, alert firefighters to their probable whereabouts and the best route to reach them. Unlike you and your children, firefighters are equipped and trained to enter burning buildings. They will try their best to rescue everyone.
Children can be deep sleepers. They might even sleep through the piercing sound of a smoke detector, so be prepared to wake them yourself during a house fire. Young children have even been known to panic during fires, hiding under beds and inside closets instead of escaping a burning building.
To help prevent this from happening, design a fire-escape plan for your home, discuss it with everyone and practice it with your kids at least twice a year so everyone will know what to do in a fire emergency.
Benjamin Hadlock is Vice President of BlowHard Fans, an innovator in industrial fans for firefighters. For more than a decade, Hadlock has been a driving force in BlowHard Fans’ strategic journey in research and quantification of fan performance as part of product development. He has been instrumental in relationship building and information sharing within the industry.