While it is easy to think that a fire in your home would never happen to you, there are more potential risks around your home than you may think, especially during the winter months. Fires get out of hand so quickly that it can take just seconds for a spark to fill a room with smoke. A recent study shows that within three seconds of ignition, a dry scotch pine Christmas tree is completely ablaze; within 40 seconds the entire room in engulfed in flames that release dense and deadly toxic smoke. The good news is it can take less than one minute to help prevent such a tragedy. What can you do to help keep your family safe this holiday season? Prepare, Plan, and Prevent.
1. PREPARE- First, be prepared. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home and near all sleeping areas. You should test your smoke alarms every week and make sure that you can hear them from behind closed doors. Involve children in the testing so that they know what the alarm sounds like and what they should do if it goes off. You should also change the batteries at least twice per year. An easy way to remember this is to get in the habit of changing batteries when you change clocks for daylight savings time.
2. PLAN- Be sure your family has a fire escape plan in place. Make a quick drawing of the floorplan of your home and identify at least two exits from every room. Go over the plan with your kids and identify a meeting place outside the house, such as mailbox or neighbor’s driveway. Be sure to hold a fire drill and practice getting out of the house with your children at least twice per year. Families with infants or very young children should plan how to get those children out. Older children can be taught to stay low in case of fire, feel doors before opening them, and never return to the house once they have gotten out.
3. PREVENT- In addition to being prepared, there are also some simple ways to help prevent some of the most common causes of home fires during the holidays. Many of these steps only take a minute and can prevent what could be a lifetime of regret.