Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

June 14, 2013

Home free of hazards

Although National Fire Prevention Month is in October, troubling data from the state fire marshal’s office last week reminded us that such education and safety tips should be a year-round endeavor of every family.

State fire officials report 54 fire deaths already this year — eight more than all of last year.

The No. 1 tip to prevent fire deaths is to make sure your home is equipped with working smoke detectors. Install smoke alarms on every level of your house and inside every bedroom.

Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year, and test each alarm monthly by pushing the test button.

According to the American Red Cross, home fires are the biggest disaster threat Americans face. Improper use of alternate heaters increases that threat as people turn to other ways to heat their homes when the temperatures drop. Everyone should have their furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves inspected and cleaned before another winter of use.

Many people will be considering the use of alternate sources of heat to cut down on heating bills. The Red Cross recommends that people look for a model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over, and that they place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in the home. Other safety tips include:

• Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least 3 feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.

• Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.

• Keep children and pets away from space heaters.

The Red Cross responds to a fire somewhere in the country about once every nine minutes. The organization responds to about 63,000 home fires every year.

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