Fire Safety Awareness for Families
Fire Safety and Children
Because of their lack of experience, young children are at double the risk of dying in a fire as compared to the rest of the population. And with home fires increasing each year, young children are at high risk of being seriously injured or dying in residential fires.
The West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office is working to promote awareness of these dangers in our state and asking families to be vigilant about preventing home fires in the first place. "The single most effective thing adults can do to keep children safe is to look around their homes, identify potential fire hazards—and remove them," advises Sterling Lewis, Jr., State Fire Marshal.
Heating and cooking are two of the leading fire risks to children during the cold months, even going into early spring. Some tips to keep in mind:
- Give space heaters space! Keep a 3-foot safety ("child-free") zone around any heat sources in your home, and keep children and pets well away.
- Do not use your oven to heat your home - it's not designed to be used as a heat source except for food items.
- Follow all manufacturers' directions for alternate heat sources such as wood stoves and kerosene heaters.
- Store all fuels in proper containers and keep them away from children and combustible materials.
- Young children are at high risk of being burned by hot food and liquids. Keep children away from the stove and microwave, and never hold a child while cooking or carrying hot foods and liquids.
- Teach children about hot things that can hurt them. When they are old enough, teach them to cook safely. Supervise them very closely.
- Make an escape plan with your family and agree on a safe meeting place outside. Practice your home fire drill regularly so everyone knows what to do.
- Install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on each level of your home, especially in sleeping areas. In West Virginia last year, no smoke alarms were present in 30% of fires that occurred in residences.
- Test your smoke alarms every month and change batteries at least once a year.
- If there's a fire in your home, ONLY call 911 once everyone is safely outside.
- If you're renovating or building a new home, keep in mind that residential fire sprinklers are your best line of defense. Unlike smoke alarms (which although valuable, can only notify you of fire), sprinklers can actually save lives AND property, generally suppressing the fire with only one sprinkler head.
Take the time to learn more about how you can prevent fires in the home.
For more information on home fire safety, visit these Web sites: