Monthly Archives: January 2017

Information Childproofing Essentials for a Safe The Home

Childproofing your house can be difficult! The process is an ongoing one to ensure a baby, toddler, and child safety at home or to keep kids safe while visiting a friend or relative’s home.

Karen Sheehan, MD, MPH, medical director of the Injury Free Coalition for Kids at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, reminds adults to consider a child’s developmental stage when childproofing a home.

  • Infants are barely mobile, but even young babies can roll or otherwise move considerable distances.
  • Crawlers and early walkers can get into trouble anywhere.
  • Older toddlers can be extremely curious and resourceful about climbing, opening doors, and getting into places that may surprise adults.

A good approach to childproofing your home is to see each room through eyes of a child. Get down on the floor and look around. Ask yourself questions like, “What’s that? Can I put it in my mouth? What would happen if I crawl in there?”

A Childproofing Safety Check for the Whole House

Once you start childproofing, you’ll probably notice safety hazards throughout the house, from the laundry room to the linen closet. Be methodical during your childproofing “tour” of your home. Count the number of electrical outlets within a child’s reach, including those behind furniture. You’ll need a plastic electrical outlet safety cover for each one.

Next, pay special attention to choking hazards. Make sure that cords hanging from drapes or appliances are tied up and out of reach of curious hands. Babies and young children can also choke on balloons, jewelry, toys, coins, rubber bands, decorative rocks or marbles in potted plants, and hundreds of other things.

Sharp objects like knives, cooking utensils, and gardening implements should be kept out of sight and, ideally, out of a child’s reach or locked up. That goes for cleaning supplies too – kids shouldn’t be able to get to them. Poisoning is a common, but preventable occurrence. If you don’t actually use a particular chemical or cleaning agent in your house, don’t keep it; if you do need it, lock it up. Just in case, keep the number to the 24-hour nationwide poison-control center handy: 1-800-222-1222.

If you have guns in the house, keep them unloaded, out of sight, and locked away from children and teens of all ages.

Room-Specific Childproofing Safety Check

Make sure each room in your home is checked for its unique hazards:

  • In the bathroom. Keep all medications, including over-the-counter (OTC) remedies, out of sight, and use safety latches on medicine cabinets. Keep scissors, tweezers, and other sharp objects out of reach. To avoid burns, set the hot water heater no higher than 120 degrees. Never leave your child unattended in the tub, and place toilet lid locks to keep small children from playing in the toilet bowl and possibly drowning. Store buckets upside down to prevent any water accumulation; remember that small children can drown in just a few inches of water.
  • In the bedroom. A crib should be a safe haven for babies to sleep, so remove all toys, comforters, pillows, and other items that pose a risk of suffocation. As babies begin to sit up on their own, move mobiles out of their reach. Maintain smoke alarms in or near each bedroom and test them to make sure they actually work. If not, replace older devices with new smoke detectors.
  • In the kitchen. When cooking on the stove top, use rear burners, keep handles turned toward the back of the stove, and don’t leave the room when the stove is on.
  • In the basement and garage. Hang tools and ladders out of reach, and store any gasoline, lighter fluid, paints, pesticides, or other chemicals in a locked cabinet.
  • At windows. Windows are an often-overlooked aspect of home safety. Remember, screens are designed to keep insects out, not to keep kids in. Don’t place furniture under windows, which creates an invitation to climb and explore. If you do open your windows to let a breeze in, be sure the windows are out of children’s reach.Install safety locks on windows throughout the house. Windows should still provide a viable escape in case of fire, however, so make sure they’re not painted shut. Also, if you have window fans or air conditioning units, make sure at least one window in each room is not blocked.
  • In the backyard and around decks. If you have a pool, maintain a tall fence around it (usually determined by local building codes) and keep it locked when not in use. Never allow your children to swim unsupervised. Be sure that doors leading to the yard, deck, and any balcony also have childproof locks.
  • On the stairs. Safety gates should be positioned at the top and bottom of each flight of stairs.

Childproofing your entire house probably isn’t necessary if children are there only as guests, but focus on the area or rooms where visiting children will spend the most time. And keep in mind that young children should be supervised at all times, so everyone can remain safe and sound.

Actually Smoke Alarms Can Save Lives

A smoke alarm can save lives, but it must be used properly for the best fire safety. Install smoke alarms throughout your home, and check batteries regularly.

By the time flames are roaring through a house, it may be too late to stop the fire. Even worse, it may be too late to safely get your family out of your burning home. Fires can start and spread quickly, often while you’re asleep. So to protect yourself and your family from fires, install a smoke alarm in every crucial area of your home.

Buying a Smoke Alarm

A smoke alarm, also called a smoke detector, can sense a fire early on and warn a family of impending danger before tragedy strikes.

Smoke alarms are sold at hardware and home improvement stores, and even some supermarkets. You might even be able to get a free smoke alarm from your local fire department.

You can buy a smoke alarm that runs only on battery power or one that is wired into the electrical system of your house and runs on electricity with a battery backup. Above all, each smoke alarm you buy must carry the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) label on it.

There are three types of smoke alarms on the market:

  • Ionization smoke alarm. This alarm detects big, open flames.
  • Photoelectric smoke alarm. This alarm detects a smoky fire that’s smoldering, before any big flames get started.
  • Dual sensor smoke alarm. This is a combination smoke alarm that detects both types of fires.

You should have both an ionization and a photoelectric smoke alarm, or a dual sensor smoke alarm. And, remember, you will need smoke alarms at multiple sites throughout your home.

Installing a Smoke Alarm

A smoke alarm tucked in a far corner of your home might not detect smoke from the opposite end of the house until it’s too late. So it’s important to install a smoke alarm on each floor of your home — don’t forget your basement — and at strategic areas on each level if you have a lot of square footage. Install a smoke detector near sleeping areas, even inside the bedroom of any household member who is difficult to arouse from sleep, and put another one in your kitchen. Install them high up on walls, near the ceiling, since smoke will rise quickly.

Don’t install your fire alarm:

  • Near a window
  • Just above the stove where steam is likely to set it off
  • Near a fireplace
  • On the ceiling right next to a wall
  • On the wall right next to the ceiling
  • Above doors or heating and cooling ducts

You will need an electrician to install a hard-wired smoke detector that runs on electricity, but installing a battery-powered smoke alarm is pretty simple. Most battery-operated smoke alarms can be attached to the wall using a regular screwdriver. Some even come with an adhesive pad that affixes the smoke alarm to the wall for you.

Maintaining a Smoke Alarm

Once your smoke alarms are properly installed, you need to test them regularly to make sure they’re working. Here are some tips to test and maintain each smoke alarm:

  • Each month, test your smoke alarms by pushing the test button — make sure you hear the alarm sound; always test the batteries in your wired smoke alarms, too, to know that they’re working as a backup.
  • Replace the batteries in your smoke alarm if it makes a light beeping noise — this signals that the batteries are running out.
  • Keep smoke alarms clean and free of dust, dirt, and debris with regular dusting or a light vacuum with the hose attachment. This will allow air to circulate in the device, providing you with better results, earlier detection, and superior fire safety.
  • Replace the smoke alarm unit every 8 to 10 years.
  • If your smoke alarm goes off while cooking dinner, fan smoke away from the device; don’t disable it.

You’ll need to change the batteries in your smoke alarm at least once each year. Pick a time that’s easy for you to remember and stick to it. Many people like to change the batteries in their smoke alarms when daylight savings ends each fall. You could also choose a holiday or a birthday.

Remember to perform this regular maintenance — statistics show that while more than 90 percent of homes have smoke alarms, half may not be working because of missing or dead batteries. And if smoke alarms aren’t working, they can’t help save a life.

Tips Handle Kitchen Fires

According to the most recent government statistics available, there are more than 150,000 kitchen fires in the United States yearly, with hundreds of people killed and thousands more injured. Cooking mishaps cause up to 90 percent of kitchen fires, and most of those are grease fires. Those frightening statistics lead up to one big question: Do you know what to do when a kitchen fire flares? Should you first reach for the fire extinguisher or for the phone to call the fire department?

Grease Fires in the Kitchen

Grease fires belong in a class by themselves and should not be handled like any other kitchen fire. Rule No. 1: Never pour water on a grease fire. The best way to handle a grease fire is to smother it, if possible, and let it die out. Follow these specifics:

  • Whenever you’re cooking, have an oven mitt, a potholder, and a lid that fits your pan all on hand and ready to grab in case fire sparks.
  • If grease catches on fire in your cooking pan, quickly put on the oven mitt, then place the lid over the pan to smother the fire. Try to slide the lid over the flames as opposed to dropping the lid down from above.
  • Turn off the burner and leave the pan exactly where it is so that it can cool.
  • Never move the pan, never carry it outside or put it in the sink, and don’t lift the lid until the pan has turned cool.

Oven, Microwave, and Electrical Fires

Fires can happen anywhere in the kitchen — near an electrical outlet, in the microwave, or in the stove. Here are some tips to help you know what to do in case of any of these kitchen fires:

  • Oven fires. Immediately close the oven door and turn it off. If the fire doesn’t go out right away, call the fire department. Have the oven inspected and repaired before you use it again.
  • Microwave fires. Close the microwave door and keep it closed. Turn the microwave off and unplug it if you can do so safely. Leave it closed and don’t use it again until you can have the appliance checked out by a technician.
  • Electrical fires. Prevent electrical fires by not overloading your electrical outlets with appliances. If a fire starts, use a fire extinguisher; never douse it with water. Always call the fire department for an electrical fire, even if you have already put it out with the fire extinguisher.

Using a Fire Extinguisher on Kitchen Fire

Every kitchen should be equipped with a fire extinguisher. Get one that’s labeled as safe to use on any kind of fire, and keep it within easy reach.

If a fire starts, you won’t have time to stop and read the directions. Become familiar with these tips to understand how to use a fire extinguisher on a small kitchen fire:

  • First, remove the pin from the fire extinguisher — it won’t work if you don’t.
  • Point the extinguisher toward the base of the fire, not the top of the flames.
  • Holding it by the handle, press down on the lever on the fire extinguisher; just let go when you want to stop.
  • Spray horizontally back and forth across the fire until it’s extinguished, remembering to aim low.

Baking soda is also an important ingredient in any kitchen, and not just for baking cookies. If a fire breaks out on an electric stovetop or if you don’t have anything available to smother a grease fire, grab a box of baking soda and pour it generously on the flames. Baking soda will help to extinguish a small fire, but you may need several boxes of it. Never use flour to put out a fire, as it can make the flames worse.

When to Call the Fire Department for a Kitchen Fire

So when should you call 911, and when should you try to fight a fire yourself? Never hesitate to call the fire department. But if it’s a small, contained fire, you should follow the above tips to try to extinguish it while waiting for help to arrive.

You should also be sure to get your family out of the house, and if the flames rise and spread, you should get out, too. Kitchen fires that start small and can be quickly contained or extinguished are one thing, but roaring fires aren’t something you should attempt to tackle. Remember safety first: Keep yourself and your family protected, and call for help.

This is It Strategies for Preventing House Fires

More than 4,000 people die every year in fires, and more than six times that many people are injured. Keep your family safe by knowing everything you can about fire safety and prevention.

Of the thousands of people who perish each year in fires, the overwhelming majority – 84 percent – succumb in their own homes. House fires can flare for many reasons, including electrical problems, outdoor fires, and unattended candles. The most common cause of death from house fires, however, is from cigarettes that have been left carelessly lit.

Keeping Your Home Safe From Fire

Many house fires start because of carelessness and can be prevented by taking simple fire safety measures to protect your home. Follow these fire safety tips to reduce the risk of house fires:

  • Be careful in the kitchen. Fire safety and prevention is especially important in the kitchen, so keep kitchen appliances unplugged when you’re not using them (of course, that goes for appliances elsewhere in the house, too). Never leave the kitchen while cooking on the stovetop, and keep flammable items away from the stovetop.
  • Use heaters wisely. Have your furnace or heating system inspected annually, and avoid potentially dangerous causes of fire like kerosene heaters. Always use a screen in front of an indoor fireplace to keep flames away from furniture and drapes, and be cautious when using space heaters — follow all directions to the letter.
  • Be vigilant about cigarettes. If you or a guest in your home is a smoker, watch those butts. Always use a deep, sturdy ashtray. For fire safety, never smoke cigarettes in bed. And before bed or heading out the door, do a quick scan around and under the furniture and linens to make sure there are no still-lit cigarette butts.
  • Clear up the clutter. Don’t let highly flammable materials clutter up your home. Regularly clean out old newspapers, magazines, and other things likely to quickly catch and spread a fire.
  • Go easy on electrical outlets. Never plug too many appliances into one outlet, and don’t use extension cords permanently. Don’t use light bulbs that are too powerful for the lamp or fixture.
  • Blow out the candles. Only light candles in a room where you can keep an eye on them, and never leave a room with a candle burning. Blow out all candles before bed or leaving the house, and use candles with a sturdy base that aren’t likely to fall over.

Preventing Outdoor Fires

Fires that happen outside the home can quickly become house fires if you don’t take care to stop the spread and protect your home:

  • Practice safe grilling:
    • Always keep a fire extinguisher or a hose near the grill.
    • Never grill indoors, not even in your garage.
    • Don’t use gasoline to get a fire going.
    • Always store and use a barbeque grill at least 15 feet away from your home, car, garage, trees, and shrubs.
    • Keep propane gas tanks away from the home.
    • Never spray lighter fluid onto an existing fire.
  • Practice fire-safe landscaping:
    • Keep the landscaping around your home thin to prevent fueling any fires.
    • Don’t store firewood near your home.
    • Landscape with fire-resistant shrubs and plants.
    • Avoid small shrubs and trees beneath or near larger trees.
    • Clear any dead trees, shrubs, leaves, and plants away from your home.
    • Keep grass and trees near your home watered, especially if you live in a dry area.
    • In addition to all these tips, take extra precautions if you live in an area prone to wildfires; get in touch with your local fire department for specific advice.

Fire Extinguishers and Other Fire Safety Equipment

Protecting yourself by being prepared for a fire emergency in your home is one of the best fire prevention steps you can take. Stock up on this basic fire safety equipment to protect yourself in the event of a fire:

  • Working smoke detectors on every level of your house and in crucial areas, like the kitchen and near bedrooms
  • Fire extinguishers throughout the house (always one in the kitchen)
  • A safety ladder to help your family get out of the house from floors above ground level
  • A sprinkler system installed in your home
  • Easy-to-open windows and screens

You can’t always prevent house fires, but so many of the tragedies that occur each year could have been prevented with a little care and preparation. Protect your home, your life, and your family by being fire-safety savvy and reducing your risk of house fires.