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NEWS | Oct. 1, 2008

Fire prevention week stresses preventing home fires

By Staff Sgt. Ken Shockley 437th Civil Engineer Squadron fire inspector

Fire departments responded to nearly 400,000 home fires in 2007. That's why the theme of Fire Prevention Week 2008 from Oct. 5 to 11 is "It's Fire Prevention Week: Prevent Home Fires!"

Fires and burns are the third leading cause of unintentional home injury and related deaths. Fire safety and survival begins with everyone in the household being prepared. Follow these safety measures to reduce the chance of fire at home:

Prevent fires caused by cooking. Always stay in the kitchen while cooking. Keep things that can burn, such as dish towels, paper or plastic bags, and curtains at least three feet away from the range top. Before cooking, roll up sleeves and use oven mitts because loose-fitting clothes can touch a hot burner and catch on fire. When cooking outside, never leave barbecue grills unattended. Keep grills at least 10 feet away from other objects, including the house and any shrubs or bushes.

Prevent fires caused by heating. Store matches and lighters out of the reach of children. Keep space heaters at least three feet away from things that can burn, such as curtains or stacks of newspapers and it's important to remember to always turn off heaters when leaving the room or going to bed. Have a service person inspect chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves and central furnaces once a year and have them cleaned when necessary. Keep things that can burn away from fireplaces and keep a glass or metal screen in front of a fireplace.

Prevent fires caused by smoking. Use "fire-safe" smoking practices by using large, deep ashtrays on sturdy surfaces like a table and extinguish cigarettes in an ashtray, and make sure they are completely out.

Prevent fires caused by candles. Never leave burning candles unattended. Do not allow children to keep candles or incense in bedrooms. Always use stable, candle holders made of material that won't catch fire, such as metal, glass, etc.

Prevent fires caused by gasoline and other products. Store gasoline in approved storage containers only. Never bring or use gasoline indoors; use it as a motor fuel only. Never use gasoline as a cleaning agent. Close the lid on all dangerous products and put them away after using them. Store them away from the home and in a safe place with a lock.

Keep family safe at home. Develop a fire escape plan for the family. When making the plan, try to identify two exits out of every room and a place where everyone can meet outside. Practice makes perfect -- to make sure everyone knows the plan, hold a family fire drill at least twice each year. Install smoke alarms on every level of the home. Either put them in or as close to every bedroom so they can be heard in the event of a fire. Make sure to test the smoke detectors monthly to make sure they work and be sure to replace the batteries twice a year. Teach every family member to "Stop, Drop and Roll" if clothes catch fire. For homeowners who live off base, consider having a home fire sprinkler system installed in the new home. Learn how and when to use a fire extinguisher by remembering the acronym P.A.S.S. Pull the pin, Aim at the base of the fire, Squeeze the handle and Sweep side to side. If there is a fire in the home, stay outside when already outside; do not go back inside for any reason.

For more information or if there are any questions or concerns, contact the 437th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Prevention Office at 963-3121.