When people think of fire safety, the image of blaring red and white ladder trucks with fully geared firefighters come to mind. The first step in fire safety is prevention. The majority of fires in the home start in the kitchen. Learning proper cooking procedures are paramount to providing a safe environment for your family.
Before cooking, check that your appliances are in proper working order and free of residue that can smoke and catch fire. All appliances, including microwaves, should be plugged directly into an outlet. An extension cord can overload your outlet and cause a fire. Make sure you are using the proper cookware for the job, such as pots and pans safe for use. While cooking wear properly-fitted clothing near the stove-top (no long draping sleeves or oversized tops). Keep flammable items, such as pot holders and paper towels, far away from your heat source. Always watch what you are cooking and never leave items unattended. Supervise children and teach them appropriate kitchen behaviors; always ask permission to cook, do not put aluminum foil in the microwave. Always be aware of the specific temperatures and cooking times of the foods you are preparing.
Installing a smoke detector on each floor of your home, with one near the kitchen, will help alert you in case of smoke or flames. Check the alarm regularly and change the batteries on all the smoke detectors on a specific date every year, such as New Year’s day. Every home should have a fire extinguisher located in an easy to access area. They are divided into 4 classes. The two you will want to purchase is a Class B which is rated for flammable liquids, like gasoline and oil. Also the Class C which is rated for electrical equipment. The Class A fire extinguisher is for paper and woods. The Class D is for chemical and laboratory type of fires. You can find small home fire extinguishers for relatively inexpensive. Watch the expiration date and be familiar with the instructions in case you need to use it. If a pot catches on fire, turn off the burner and cover it with a lid immediately. Do not put water on a grease or electrical fire, it will make it worse. Keep a box of baking soda next your stove to use for small fires. It is a simple and effective way to help put out a small, contained flame.
Having a family safety plan in place eliminates some of the worry and chaos that happens when a fire breaks out. In as little as 30 seconds, your home can fill with thick black smoke making it difficult to breathe or see. Practice getting out of your home safely from every room. Check that locks are in reach for everyone from the inside, and windows are accessible. The rule is, “when in doubt, get out”. Always touch the doorknob to check for heat and open doors slowly. Crawl on the ground, this allows you maximum access to oxygen. Have a meeting spot that is far enough away from the home to be safe, but close enough that even small children can access it on their own. Once you are out, stay out. Do not go back, call 9-1-1 as soon as you can, and wait for your family. Following these safety guidelines will help ensure your family can prevent serious issues in your home as well as prepare you in case of an emergency.
Shannon Martin is an Insurance underwriter for home, life and car insurance. She writes on issues of safety and prevention relating to the home and car. You can find other articles at www.insuranceswami.com.
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