Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fire Safety Tips for Parents

As promised....some Fire Safety tips for Parents:
  • Always make sure overnight guests and sitters know where the fire extinguishers and/or other safety equipment (such as ladders) are in your house and how to use them. It only takes a second to show them. 
  • Keep one fire extinguisher on each floor- I recommend under the kitchen sink near the front of the cabinet where it's easily reachable AS SOON AS you open the cabinet door, or in the pantry, if you have one, in the case of kitchen fires. Other good spots in the house are those central to additional floors if you have an upstairs and/or basement. For example, if the linen closet is in the middle of the house upstairs, put it in there on the floor in the front corner UN-BURIED! and easily accessible.
  • Check your fire extinguisher(s) regularly to be sure they are still "good" and functional. There should be a dial on them and the needle should be in the green. Replace them as needed- talk to a firefighter at your local firehouse to find out when its safest to pitch the old and go with the new.
  • Never leave appliances such as the dishwasher, dryer, stove/oven running or on while you're away. If a fire breaks out, no one is there to catch it in the early stages and put it out before it does some serious damage. Even if you think you're only running out for a few minutes, think about what might happen if you are delayed instead by car trouble or unexpected traffic. You'll only be a ton more stressed and no one needs that kind of pressure, especially behind the wheel.
  • Clean lint from the dryer mesh every single time. I recently watched my brother revisit his Boy-Scouting days by showing us how he could light a ball of lint from the dryer with a flint and we all watched wide-eyed and impressed as it burned up faster than one would imagine. It was cool but sorta scary as I pictured how this very same scenario was possible in the typical home dryer (lint build-up + spark/heat). 
  • Every 3-6 months wash the dryer's lint screen well so it's free of fabric softener- some
    thing which is quite flammable and leaves a film on clothes and the screen...which is why I skip traditional fabric softener and use a cup of vinegar in the wash instead but that's for another post.
  • Every 6 months, gently vacuum out your smoke detector using your vacuum cleaner attachments to get rid of dust, which can either cause false alarms, or no alarm at all!.  
  • Never put anything that has had oil on it in the dryer. This includes dishcloths, oven mitts, and hubby's oily clothes from his car-tinkering hobby, ahem. To be safe, just go ahead and air dry it.
There, now that you're all adequately and equally as paranoid as myself (hopefully you're just more prepared and more knowledgeable but if you've gone overboard like myself, you see you're not alone) my work here is done.

Some Links:
National Fire Protection Agency offers assessments in case of fire emergencies

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fire Safety

Did you know a typical house fire doubles in size every minute, according to Discover Magazine? Like most statistics, that's a scary thought.

Since I've been on a rare streak lately with crossing things off my insane To-Do List, I decided to go with the feelin' and get my planned lesson on Fire Safety taken care of. 

Because every good thing begins with a book, we started by reading "No Dragons for Tea" by Jean E. Pendziwol, a picture book about fire safety, and since I we can't get enough of books that rhyme, this one was perfect for me the kids. Plus, it was funny.

We trudged up to their rooms and I had them lie in their beds and pretend to be asleep as we rehearsed and varied our escape routes by trying on different scenarios (What if the door is hot? Don't open it & go out the window. What if there's smoke in your room? Crawl on your hands and knees or on your belly if there's lots of smoke. Do you leave your door open or closed when you leave your room? Closed, to keep the fire from spreading.)- I'll have you know I was quite the entertaining beeping smoke detector, if I do say so myself. The more you practice- you should be serious without scaring them- the easier it'll be for them to think clearly in an emergency.

We've added a 2nd-story fire safety ladder to our shopping list, along with at least one more fire extinguisher. As soon as it comes in, I plan to teach the kids how to use it. That should be fun, as I enjoy heights as much as a trip to the dentist- no offense Dr.W. Anyway, about these ladders I'll be climbing, they're advertised as being lightweight enough for a child to use on their own, so we'll see. SIDE NOTE: Fire extinguishers are generally no more than $40 so if your one-income budget is tight like ours, save those dollars up and work it into your shopping budget sooner rather than later. It really could save your life.

We have made sure everyone knows where to meet in case we have to get out on our own and the kids know how to safely cross the street (not a busy one) if the fire is too hot to safely stand in our planned meeting spot. They understand that they are not to go back into house for any reason, even if their lovey is trapped inside. I've stressed to them that we can always get more toys & loveys and they seem to really get it. I'm tremendously proud that they passed this part of the test scenario I gave them. We're talking with flying colors.

We are scheduling in a second trip to tour the local firehouse soon just for kicks to round out the lesson. The last time we dropped in for a visit- they're generally cool with that- we were lucky enough to see an alarm in action. It was jaw-dropping to see those boys get up and go in less than thirty seconds and I was too thrilled that the kids got to see how it really goes down behind the scenes. I chuckled as I thought about how much the firefighters would've had to adjust their timetable had my notoriously slow-moving children been needed on that truck. Yikes for the people waiting on the other end. 

In my next post, I'll include some tips for parents that I hope will help you prepare and protect your family. 

For now, some links:
National Fire Protection Agency offers assessments in case of fire emergencies