Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

October 15, 2013

Home free of hazards?

In honor of National Fire Prevention Month, area fire departments will be out in our communities this month offering education and safety tips.

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 are considering the use of alternate sources of heat to cut down on heating bills. The Red Cross recommends 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.

The theme of this past Fire Prevention Week was “Prevent Kitchen Fires.” Cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of house fires and home injuries in the U.S., and unattended cooking is the leading cause of kitchen fires. The National Fire Prevention Association recommends staying in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food. And keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, food packaging, towels and curtains — away from the stovetop.

The message is clear: Fires can be deadly. Use this month as an opportunity to make sure you and your family are ready in the event of a fire.

A few minutes now could save your life or the life of a loved one when disaster strikes.

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