Young boy wearing fire fighter helmet In 2019, 240 children younger than age 15 died as a result of fires and an estimated 1,575 children were injured. Children, ages 4 and younger, are at a greater risk of death or injury in a fire compared to older children and adults because they don’t have the ability to understand the need to quickly escape. Young children may hide from the loud alarm or be frightened by a firefighter in gear and run.

The tips below will help your family stay safe and ensure you are prepared to respond if there is a fire in your home.

Be alarmed

Working smoke alarms reduce the likelihood of dying in a house fire by half. Follow these guidelines to use them correctly.

  • Protect your family by installing one smoke alarm on each level of your house, inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and in the basement.
  • Install smoke alarms on the ceiling or high on the wall. To avoid false alarms, smoke alarms should be installed at least 10 feet away from cooking appliances like stoves and toaster ovens.
  • Make sure that smoke alarms are interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.

Follow the rule

  • “Once a month, once a year, once a decade”: Test smoke alarms every month, change the batteries once a year, and replace the alarms every 10 years.

Go through the motions

  • Create a home fire escape plan. Draw a map of your house, including all windows and doors, and map an escape route for each family member that leads to an outside meeting place. The meeting place should be a permanent location in front of – and a safe distance away from – your house.
  • Practice your escape plan twice a year so everyone is prepared. Practice makes perfect, and every second counts in a fire.
  • Make sure each room in your house has two exits, such as a window and a door.
  • Always use the stairs – never the elevator – during a fire.
  • Teach all family members how to call 9-1-1 from a mobile phone using the emergency feature on the phone’s lock screen.
  • Explain to children that firefighters are community helpers who wear special equipment called “gear” to protect them from fire and smoke. Let them know that the gear may look scary, but it keeps the firefighters safe.

Teach your children fire safety basics

  • Get low and go. If there is smoke, it’s important to get outside immediately. Get low and crawl outside as quickly as possible. Once outside, stay outside.
  • Stop, drop and roll. If your clothes catch fire, stop where you are, drop to the floor, and roll over and over until the flames are out.
  • Get outside, stay outside. Do not go back inside for pets or possessions. Tell the firefighters immediately if anyone is missing.
  • Before exiting a room during a fire, test a closed door with the back of your hand. If it feels hot, do not open the door. Use another exit to escape, such as a window.

Follow these fire safety guidelines

  • Never leave small children alone in the house, even for a few minutes.
  • Keep flammable products, such as matches, lighters and candles, locked away, and teach kids to never touch or play with such items.
  • Stay in the kitchen while cooking. Keep flammable items, such as dishtowels and loose clothing, away from the stovetop.
  • Maintain heating equipment. Have your furnace inspected annually and turn off and unplug supplemental heaters when sleeping.
  • Unplug small appliances when not in use.
  • Keep children three feet away from the stovetop, kerosene lamps, space heaters and outdoor grills when these items are in use.
  • Keep fire extinguishers near exits and high-risk areas like the kitchen. Select an extinguisher that can be used on all types of home fires and is large enough to put out a small fire, but not so heavy that it is difficult to handle.

More information on fire safety can be found here.

Contributed by: Injury Prevention Program

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