National Fire Prevention Week, taking place through Oct. 12, is a time when homeowners should think about safety in their homes.
“That’s why everybody goes into the schools and talks to the kids. Education is the key,’’ said A.J. Boni, Perry Township fire chief.
Fire prevention begins with working smoke detectors.
“Have one on every floor and check them every year,’’ said Boni.
Susan Kozak-Griffith, spokeswoman for Fayette 911, noted, “October is Fire Prevention Month which takes us to the end of Daylight Saving Time, the time when we should all be changing the batteries and testing our smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Properly functioning smoke detectors are key to saving lives and property.’’
The National Fire Protection Association offered these tips on its website: A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. People who are hard of hearing or deaf can use special alarms that have strobe lights and bed shakers.
Homes should have fully-charged fire extinguishers and residents should know how to use them.
“Point, pull and squeeze,’’ said Boni. “Aim at the base of the fire and sweep.’’
Practice safety when cooking as the association noted cooking fires are the number-one cause of home fires and injuries.
Kozak-Griffith commented, “Indoors, practice caution using candles and don’t leave cooking food unattended. Outdoors, don’t leave even the smallest fire unattended.’’
Be careful when heating a home. Boni advised homeowners have their furnaces serviced before cold weather sets in.
The association recommends: Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove or portable space heater. Have a 3-foot “kid-free zone’’ around open fires and space heaters. Never use an oven to heat a home. Turn off portable heaters when leaving a room or going to bed. Make sure a fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container that is kept a safe distance from the house.
Homeowners who experience a fire should leave immediately.
Kozak-Griffith commented, “If you see fire, don’t try to extinguish it yourself, call 911.’’
“You want to get out before you call 911,’’ said Boni. “Have an escape plan and you want to have a meeting place.’’
The association offers suggestions: Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily. Practice a home fire drill at night and during the day with everyone in the home twice a year. Practice using different ways out. Close doors while leaving. If someone has to escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to get out.
Kozak-Griffith noted, “Remind family members what the smoke alarm sounds like. Remind them of escape routes and gathering points outside the home.’’
The Red Cross also advises people stop, drop and roll if their clothes catch fire.
For those who have a long driveway, make sure the house number is prominently displayed along the road so first responders can find the home.
Boni said homeowners who have a fire hydrant on or near their property should keep access to it open.
“In the winter, keep the snow away from it and in the summer, make sure the grass doesn’t grow high around it,’’ said Boni. “Make sure it’s exposed so firefighters can see it.’’
Officials report most Americans underestimate their risk for fire.
Kozak-Griffith noted, “Prevention is paramount to fire safety.”