October was Fire Prevention Month. This is due to the Great Chicago Fire back in 1871. Fire prevention used to be addressed once a year in the community. Today, we have lots more structures to burn and a lot more products on the market to burn them. Fire safety should be addressed year round for a safer place in which you live.

Working smoke alarms reduce the chances of dying in a fire by 50%. Smoke alarms that work properly and are maintained properly are the best life saving devices on the market today. Smoke alarms should be vacuumed out once a year and batteries checked twice a year.

For the best protection, install smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside every sleeping area and in each bedroom.

Use Daylight Savings Time as a reminder to check your smoke alarms. Replace conventional batteries at least once a year, even if alarms are wired directly into your home’s electrical system.

Consider installing a smoke alarm that has a 10 year battery.

Smoke alarms expire after 10 years. So if your alarm is more than 10 years old, you should install a new one.

CREATE AND PRACTICE A FIRE ESCAPE PLAN

Create and practice a home fire escape plan with two ways out of your house in case of a fire. Get a stopwatch and time how fast your family can escape. The kids will love it. As part of your plan, designate one person to get infants and small children out safely. Have a back up plan for young children just in case the primary person is overcome by smoke.

Smoke is toxic. Teach children to “get low and go” if there is smoke when they are leaving the home.

Practice feeling the door, doorknob and cracks around the door with the back of your hand to see if they are too hot. Help your children practice this step.

Choose a place to meet outside that is a safe distance away from your home.

IN AN EMERGENCY, LEAVE HOME IMMEDIATELY

In the event of a fire, grab your family and leave your home immediately. Once you’re out of the house, stay out.

Wait to call 911 until after you are out of the home.

IF YOU ARE IN AN APARTMENT, PULL THE ALARM

If you don’t hear the building’s fire alarm, pull the nearest fire alarm “pull station” while leaving the floor.

Know all of your building’s fire escape exits and use the stairs to get out. Don’t use the elevator.

IF YOU’RE STUCK INSIDE, COVER THE AREAS WHERE SMOKE MIGHT COME IN

If you cannot safely escape your home or apartment, keep smoke out of the room by covering vents and cracks around the door, and call 911.

Then signal for help at the window with a light colored cloth or a flashlight.

KEEP FLAMMABLE MATERIALS IN SAFE AREAS

Remember to keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn, and always closely supervise children and pets when the heater is turned on.

Make sure you turn space heaters off when you leave the room.

If using gasoline powered devices, store gasoline in a locked location where children cannot access it. Keep only small quantities in an approved container that has child safety features.

DON’T OVER PLUG

To prevent possible fires, avoid plugging several appliance cords into the same electrical socket.

STAY FOCUSED AROUND THE KITCHEN

Use common sense in the kitchen. Limit distractions when cooking and don’t leave a hot oven or stovetop unattended.

Keep anything that can catch fire, such as dis towels or wooden spoons, away from your stovetop.

Have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in case of emergency and make sure you know how it works. You might be surprised that most people don’t know how to use one. A good box of baking soda kept dry and close to the stove makes an excellent extinguishing agent.

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