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October is Fire Prevention Month

October is Fire Prevention Month. Why, because there are a lot of home fires in October. When I was five years old, my sister and I were at home with a weekend babysitter. I walked up the stairs to use the bathroom and I saw a large billowing cloud of BLACK SMOKE coming towards me. I ran down the stairs and told the babysitter. She did not believe me at first. Finally, she went up the stairs and saw the smoke, ran down and phoned the fire department. It is a site I have always remembered. Each year there are more than 365,000 home fires, significant enough to be recorded, nationally. On average, seven people die per day in a house fire. Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fire injuries. Heating equipment and smoking materials are a leading cause of house fires. The fire in my home was determined to be caused by lightning coming in a partly opened window and striking a lamp cord causing it to burn.

Here are some tips for preventing a house fire. • Don’t smoke in bed. • Extinguish cigarettes properly. • Don’t dump ashes from ashtrays into trash baskets. • Never leave cooking pots unattended. • Never leave matches and lighter where children can get them. • Replace frayed and cracked electrical cords. • Use and store gasoline properly. Store gasoline at the outside wall of your garage or tool shed. • Don’t store gas and or gas operated equipment in your basement. • Never, ever, use gasoline to start your barbecue. • Have smoke alarms in your home in appropriate locations. See Smoke Detectors. • Determine appropriate fire escape routes. • Conduct family fire drills - DO this, it is very important! • Determine appropriate escape routes for various situations. • Determine and use a location for everyone to meet at after leaving the house, so you know that everyone is safe. • If you have to leave quickly because of a fire, don’t attempt to save any personal possessions, leave the house with what you are wearing. • Do not wear loose fitting clothing while cooking at a stove. • Have a screen on your fire place to catch hot sparks. • Clean the fireplace when the ashes & coals are cool. • Place fireplace ashes in a metal container with water in it when cleaning the fireplace. Place the ashes outside. • Do not place the ashes in a paper bag. • Have your heating unit serviced by a certified heating professional annually. • Don’t put newspapers or clothes near a furnace or stove. • Clean the dryer vent tubing every year and remove accumulated lint particles from other areas of the dryer before drying each load of clothes. An important factor in being safe, is to realize and accept that accidents can happen to you. Follow safety principles and stay safe for you and your family.

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