Hot tips for fire prevention
Since this week is National Fire Prevention Week, parents have been hot to ask me what they should be teaching their young children should a fire occur in their home. I hope these tips get you fired up to talk with your family about the following ways to safely escape a hot situation.
Avoid smoke because it’s just as dangerous as the flames and poses a serious risk for injury or death.
Cover the nose and mouth with a moist towel or article of clothing to reduce inhalation of dangerous fumes while finding your way out of the house.
Don’t run through the smoke. Instead, try to crawl or squat down under the smoke to stay as low to the ground as possible since smoke rises.
Feel the doorknob before entering a room, and if it is hot, don’t open the door. Look for another exit instead.
Don’t use the elevator if you live in an apartment building that has one — head for the stairway marked “Fire Exit.”
Leave personal belongings and pets. Reassure your children that the fire department will do all they can to save the pet or their possessions. Their life is a priority, so going back for something they forgot is forbidden.
“Stop, drop and roll” is more than a saying. It’s exactly what you need to do to extinguish the flames if your clothes do catch fire. Remember that dressing your children in flame-retardant sleepwear is always a good idea.
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should ideally be installed outside every bedroom and at a minimum on every level of your home including the basement. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year to be sure.
Place fire extinguishers on each floor, especially in the kitchen.
Review escape routes and try to designate at least two ways out of the house, and a meeting place where everyone gathers outside the home in case of a fire. Practice with a home fire drill every six months.
Hopefully tips like these will put out any concerns you have when it comes to fire safety planning.
Lewis First, MD, is chief of pediatrics at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and NBC5.