Fire claims the lives of many people each year and destroys their properties and belongings. The incidence of home fires increases in winter and many of them can be prevented if simple safety measures are followed. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) estimates that each winter, more than 108,000 residential building fires occur in the United States, resulting in 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries and about $1.7 billion in property loss.
As burns caused by fire are the leading cause of household injuries, there are simple preventive measures that can be taken to decrease or prevent such injuries which include:
- Installing a smoke detector and making sure it is working properly by checking it at least once a year.
- With the rising cost of heating, many people are looking for alternative ways to heat their houses and lower the bills paid, especially with the falling temperature, among these ways are using portable space heaters operating through different means. According to the U.S. Safety Consumer Commission, more than 25,000 residential fires, 300 deaths, and 6,000 burn injuries every year are associated with the improper use of portable space heaters. If using such heaters, make sure to keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from them.
- Never use the oven or stove-top to heat your home because they aren’t designed for such purpose and can be a fire hazard, beside, thecarbon monoxide gas emitted from the burning gas could kill people.
- It is better not to smoke but if you have to, smoke outside the house and dispose cigarettes and matches carefully.
- Never place anything that may burn near a water heater, space heater, stove top, or near a furnace.
- Fire places and burning candles should never be left unattended, candles should be placed in a sturdy candle-holder with a wide base that doesn’t burn. Remember to blow out the candle before leaving the room.
- Never place electric cords under rugs or bedding as heat or sparks from these cords may cause a fire. Also, check electrical cords for signs of wear and replace cracked or frayed ones, don’t try to repair them. Don’t overload outlets or power strips, and cover unused outlets with plastic plugs.
- Make sure that your water heater is set to 120 degrees or less to avoid scalds, install radiator cover, and isolate exposed steam pipes.
- Children should be taught never to play with matches, lighters, or gasoline; they should never be allowed to handle fireworks; never leave young children alone; place pots on the rear burner of the stove and turn the handles inward out of the reach of children; make sure that the stovetop is clean as residue grease can catch fire; make sure that the stove is turned off when you are finished; children should be taught what to do if they smell smoke of hear the smoke alarm.
- Make sure that you have a working, fully charged fire extinguisher.
Make sure that you have a proper escape plan in case of emergency and know the emergency phone numbers for your area. In most places it is 911. Also, teach children the emergency number and post it near each phone. If your clothes are on fire, stop, drop and roll.
This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.