Ahh October is here! There is a slight chill in the air, leaves are starting to fall, and the summer humidity is gone. While this may make for some wonderful weather for fall sports, picnics, and hiking; it also creates the perfect scenario for fire! I am not just talking about enjoying a fall evening toasting marshmallows by a bonfire (but doesn’t that sound like fun? Check out our Annual Fall Family Fun Night on Oct 14th, where we will control the bonfire). I am referring to unintentional dangerous house fires! As the weather turns cooler, the chances for fire increase since the air becomes drier and furnaces are turned on for the first time in months. National Fire Prevention Week starts this upcoming Sunday, October 8th (which is also the 146th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871). This time of year, it is very important to remember fire safety and learn how to avoid putting yourself at risk for experiencing fire.
This year’s National Fire Prevention Week focus is on practicing evacuating your home in the event of the fire. Their catchy slogan, “Every Second Counts, Plan 2 Ways Out” encourages people to plan for two routes of every room. The initiative reminds parents to practice escape routes with your children and have plan of where to go in the event of a fire. Parents are encouraged to have fire drills at least twice each year, with one taking place at night, so that children know what to do regardless of the time of day. National Fire Prevention Week is not just an initiative aimed at families. It is intended to remind all ages of the importance of preventing fires and how to evacuate in the event of a fire. Check out http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/campaigns/fire-prevention-week-2 and https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/fpw.html for more information and activities related to National Fire Prevention Week.
The following are some fire safety tips broken down by age groups:
-Teach kids to never place with matches or lighters.
-Conduct practice fire drills in your home.
-Designate a meeting place outside your home where you will meet at in the event of a fire.
-Teach children how to respond to the smoke detector. You should get low to the ground and exit the building.
-Teach them the importance of candle safety. Keep candles at least 12” away from flammable materials and do not ever leave a candle unattended.
-Show them how to use a fire extinguisher and where you have one in your home.
-Teach them to be vigilant while cooking. They will need to limit their distractions and never leave cooking food unattended.
-Ensure that all electrical devices are in good repair. Poorly wired electronics can cause shocks or fires.
-Make sure you have a correctly installed, working smoke detector on every level of your home. Replace the batteries every 6 months.
-Store flammable liquids in approved containers
-Space heaters and portable heaters need to be monitored while in use. Do not leave one unattended or near flammable materials.
-If using a wood-burning fireplace, make sure it is clean before each use. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
-Make sure windows and exit doors are easily accessible so that you can escape quickly through them.
-Never smoke or use a fireplace in a home where medical oxygen is used or stored.
-Practice your escape plan. Know which routes are easiest for you and what limitations you have.
-Keep space heaters at least 3’ away from anything flammable.
-Do not leave the kitchen while you are cooking.
-Inspect electrical cords. Discard any that are fraying or showing wear.
-Do not overload electrical outlets.
-Do not leave candles unattended. Keep away from flammable items.
We wish everyone a warm and fire free winter!
Sarah Barnett is the Operations/Aquatics Manager for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at (703)335-8872 or via email at S.Barnett@ManassasParkVA.gov.