Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fire Safety Tips

My kids are all back home now, DH is home too, and everyone is in a good mood (for now, at least.) I made it over the hump of the last few weeks and I'm feeling almost human. As DH once quoted my saying - I feel better. Not like I could tackle the world, but maybe like I could trip it when it isn't looking?

One thing I love about my family is how seriously they take certain things like love, spirituality, friendship, fairness, health, and safety. I used to feel kind of nerdy about this stuff, but it really does make me proud to see all of my girls practice what they have been taught by their teachers, family, and parents. Just the fact that they don't roll their eyes would be enough for me. But seeing them actively take part in these things makes my own heart swell.

Tonight, I mentioned that since we moved to the new house, we hadn't come up with a new Fire Safety Plan. I decided a long time ago that I would not wait until there was an emergency to be prepared for one. While I don't have everything I need on my Disaster Check List 100% complete, I do insist on always making sure the kids know how to get out of the house and where to meet up in case of a fire.When I mentioned the lack of a plan, all of the girls dropped what they were doing to help me decide where we should meet and what to do if we can't get to one door or another.

It only takes a few minutes and it doesn't take a long, drawn-out process. Looking out the window, we decided on the best spot to run to if we needed to get out of the house. Then, we discussed which door they should run to depending on where the danger might be, and we finished with a reminder about what to do when they hear the fire alarm go off (check the door before opening it, etc.) Within 5 minutes, the kids all went back to their own activities.

When it comes to practicing the plan, I figured out a great way to have my own unplanned fire drills. Whenever the fire alarm goes off, we hold a fire drill. Yes, usually it happens when someone is cooking dinner, but what better time to hold one then when everyone is doing something else and a fire is the furthest thing from their minds?

In addition to the Stop, Drop, and Roll stuff they get in school, I have a few tips that I try to practice around here. So, I am in no way an expert, but here goes:

1. First, of course, have a plan to get out of the house in case of fire. Think about who will get the babies out and who is in charge of the pets. Make sure visitors and babysitters have access to your plan.
2. Know where to go in case of a weather disaster. Where is the safest spot in your house in case of bad weather? Do you or your neighbor have a storm shelter?
3. If you have to evacuate your home on short notice (think wildfire or floods) where are your important and financial documents (Social Security cards, birth certificates, marriage license, cash, credit cards, etc.), food needs (baby formula, snacks, bottled water, dog food), and health needs like daily medications or blood monitor devices (blood sugar, blood pressure, oxygen.)
4. Also, the one thing  people are always the most distraught about losing is their family photographs. Do you have digital backups or negatives in a fire safe area or a place where they can be gotten to quickly?
5. Where are the cut off valves to the gas, water, and electric. Knowing where these are and how to turn them off could mean the difference between an incident and an emergency.
6. Go over fire prevention and safety tips regularly. Have a schedule so you don't forget. For example, change the batteries in the smoke alarm on your birthday or have safety meetings or drills on the same day of the month.
7. Where do fires start? The kitchen and the laundry room. Absolutely, keep your stove area and oven clean and free of loose articles, but also CLEAN OUT YOUR DRYER LINT. Not just after every load, either. The vents inside and outside the dryer collect lint that doesn't get stopped by the trap.You can buy a kit with special brushes and a vacuum attachment for about $10.(Here's my favorite.) It isn't totally necessary, just very useful. Whatever you use, just do it. (Bonus: you will not believe how much better your dryer will work!)
8. Holidays are, regrettably, the most dangerous time of year. Have fun, just be safe. Every Thanksgiving someone's  turkey or pie gets out of hand and someone gets burned. Christmas lights and decorations are bigger fire hazards every year they get older. New Year's is one of the biggest nights for fire in the year. (Think about it - a week after Christmas and the tree has dried out. It's cold outside and people are using space heaters and electric blankets inside.) Don't forget about the dangers of romantic candles on Valentines day, sparklers and fire crackers on the 4th of July, you get the idea. 
9. Keep your doorways and windows clear. You know how in school they told you to keep the backpacks off the floor because of the "Fire Code"? They weren't kidding. Enforce your own Fire Code in your house to make sure you can get out or help can get in (Paramedics, for example.)

Well, go forth, have fun, and be safe people.

Deb "Safety Patrol" Lollar

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