October 9-15 is National Fire Prevention Week. You can do your part to prevent and prepare for a home fire by following these simple tips:
+ Keep a fire extinguisher on every level of your home. Fire extinguishers are the fastest way to stop a fire before it gets out of control. They're relatively inexpensive, can last for years and are easy to use.
+ Keep flammable material "three feet from the heat." As the air gets cooler and winter begins to set in, people begin to heat their homes with space heaters and fireplaces. These are great and inexpensive ways to warm a space, but they can also be extremely dangerous. Heat sources are the second-most common cause of home fires. Make sure anything flammable--curtains, furniture, paper--is at least three feet away. Today's fabrics and furniture burn as much as eight times faster than they did 30 years ago.
+ This includes candles. Candles fill the air with wonderful scents and make a space welcoming, but their open flames make them dangerous. Keep anything flammable three feet away.
+ Never leave food unattended on the stove. Kitchen fires are the most common source of home fires. Turning your back on the stove or oven--even for a minute--can be a recipe for disaster.
+ Don't overload electrical outlets. With the increased demand for electricty to power all of our technological devices, it's easy to overload outlets. And this doubles during the holidays when we light up our homes, inside and out.
+ Even with all the precautions, fires sometimes happen. So have an escape plan--and then practice it. Home fires burn hotter and faster than they did 30 years ago, and they create thicker, blacker, more toxic smoke. This leaves as few as two minutes to escape a home once it catches fire. That is not a lot of time.
+ Install at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home, and more near the sleeping areas. The fastest way to escape a home that's on fire is to know that it's on fire, and the fastest way to know it's on fire is with a smoke alarm. A smoke alarm is going to alert you to a fire long before you ever see the flames or smell the smoke.
The Red Cross will install free smoke alarms in any home. Call your nearest chapter to set up an appointment: