Fire safety planning for your family this winter

- Nearly half of house fires in the country are caused by cooking, something families will be doing a lot of in the coming holiday weeks. 

Jennifer Kotas, Injury Prevention Education Coordinator for the Kohl's Injury Prevention Program at the Children's Hospital of Michigan, joined us on The Nine with some simple steps to ensure your family's safety. Being prepared can make the difference in an emergency. 

  • Have a working smoke alarm on every floor of your home and in every bedroom. Many fires occur while people are sleeping so the bedroom is one of the most important places to have smoke alarms.
  • Check your smoke alarm batteries every month by pushing down the button until you hear 3 beeps. Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
  • Replace your smoke alarm batteries every year (lithium batteries every 10 years) or when the alarm starts to chirp. 
  • Have a family fire escape plan and make sure to practice it.  Every room should have two ways out (a door and a window).
  • Caution everyone to stay low to the ground when escaping from fire. "STAY LOW AND GO!" 
  • Have one family meeting spot outside to make sure everyone is accounted for. Have people designated to get elderly family members and young children.       

In the kitchen: 

  • Many fires are due to unattended cooking in the kitchen. Always be sure to monitor the stove and stove top while cooking and make sure that everything is turned off before you leave the kitchen. 
  • To avoid burns, use oven mitts and keep all pot handles turned back, away from the stove edge. 
  • Establish a 3-foot safety zone to keep children away from the stove. 
  • Make sure your water heater is set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. At 140 degrees Fahrenheit, a child can be scalded in 5 seconds. 
  • Many preventable scald burns result from hot beverages being spilled on a child. Do not drink hot beverages while holding a child. Make sure they are not within the child's reach. The average cup of coffee or tea is around 180 degrees Fahrenheit.      
  • Never use your oven to heat your home. 

In the home: 

  • Keep matches, lighters, and candles out of kids' reach.  Use flameless candles when possible. 
  • Make sure irons, flat irons, or curling irons are out of children's reach.  These appliances stay hot long after they are turned off; a child can easily grab the cord and pull the appliance down on them. 
  • Fireplaces can get very hot.  Keep your child away from fireplaces and always use a fire screen. 
  • GLASS FRONTED FIREPLACES can quickly heat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and take over 30 minutes to cool down to a safe temperature.  
  • Keep all space heaters at least 3 feet away from household combustibles such as curtains, newspapers, or blankets. 
  • Never use a space heater while you are sleeping or while in a bathroom. 
  • Heaters should be placed on a flat, level surface.  
  • Keep extension cords away from items that may catch fire and do not overload.  Keep children away from extension cords. 
  • Never run extension cords under rugs or carpets. 
  • Dryer vents accumulate highly flammable lint, failure to clean out the lint in the leading cause of dryer fires.  Dryer exhaust vents should be inspected and cleaned at least ONCE a year. 

Carbon Monoxide: 

  • Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause poisoning and even death. 
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector to protect your family. 
  • Make sure furnaces, water heaters, dryers and fireplaces are vented to avoid carbon monoxide buildup.  Do not place object that might obstruct airflow on or near these appliances. 
  • Have your heating system, vents, chimney and flue inspected annually. 
  • Never leave your car idling in a closed garage. Carbon monoxide can seep into your home. 

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