June is Home Safety Month, providing a perfect opportunity for Fire Corps teams to reach out to the public and work to reduce instances of unintentional home injury in the U.S. The campaign’s theme this year is “Hands on Home Safety,” which asks the public to take some simple, hands-on steps to create a safer home environment from the five leading causes of home injury – falls, poisonings, fires and burns, choking/suffocation, and drowning.
Fire Corps Resources
Fire Corps programs can assist communities in taking preventative measures to avoid home fires. Fire Corps teams routinely educate their communities about home safety practices, and home safety checks are conducted by many programs across the country to reduce the risk of fire or injury.
Below are tips for each week of Home Safety Month that Fire Corps teams can use to educate their communities. Disseminate these tips to your contacts and community members. For more information on Home Safety Month, including additional resources, visit the Home Safety Council web site at www.homesafetycouncil.org.
Home Safety Week Tips
According to the National Fire Protection Association, residential fires accounted for nearly 3,000 deaths and over 14,000 injuries in 2007, and firefighters responded to a home fire every 79 seconds. Simple steps can be taken throughout the home to reduce the risk of fire and injury/loss of life:
- Working smoke alarms should be found in each bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home. Smoke alarms should be tested monthly to ensure they are working properly and the batteries are good.
- Be sure fire extinguishers are available on every level of the home and that each household member knows how to use them.
- Reduce the risk of fire outside of the home by removing dying or dead trees and shrubs and by keeping dry brush and debris at least 30 feet away from the home. Keep gutters, roof, and eaves clear of debris.
- Be sure any candles in the home are placed away from curtains and other furniture, as well as out of reach of children and pets. Consider using safer alternatives such as flameless candles.
Electrical fires are responsible for one in seven of all home fires in the United States every year. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 53,000 home electrical fires are reported each year resulting in approximately 500 deaths, 1,400 injuries, and $1.5 billion in property damage. Most electrical fires and injuries can be prevented by taking simple steps around the home:
- Cover all unused outlets with safety plugs.
- Check used outlets to make sure they are not being overloaded.
- Check cords for frays and warmth.
- Be sure lighting fixtures and bulbs are placed away from flammable objects such as curtains, clothes, bedding, and other fabrics.
Families with small children understand that there are hidden dangers throughout the home. Children are active, mobile, and curious, making the risk of an accident high. Parents can take several steps to make their home a kid-safe environment:
- Install child locks on all cabinets used to store dangerous items such as medicine, cleaners, and matches.
- If your home has a pool, hot tub, or other body of water, make sure each is surrounded by five-foot fencing with self-locking and self-closing gates.
- If you have a toddler or small child, install hardware-mounted safety gates at the top and bottom of every stairway in your home.
- Install window guards to prevent children from falling. Be sure the window guards have a quick release mechanism in case of fire.
Being prepared for a potential disaster not only saves time; it saves lives. Families can take simple steps to protect, inform, and prepare those involved in an emergency situation:
- Have your family develop, discuss, and practice an evacuation plan in case of fire or other emergency.
- Equip your home with an emergency supply kit. Visit www.Ready.gov for a list of suggested materials.
- Make sure phones are accessible to all members of the household. Pre-program emergency contact numbers such as 9-1-1 so children and the elderly are able to call for help.
- Create an emergency contact sheet and make sure your family members know who to contact in the event of an emergency.