Author Egena T. Younger
At its worst, the Virginia heat drives almost everyone to escape either inside or to the pool or river. Every Virginian recognizes the power of our hot, humid summer days, but many don’t fully understand how quickly the summer heat can turn from an inconvenience to a deadly danger. The largest percentage of home fires occur during the summer months as buildings and other fire hazards bake in the relentless sun.
Furthermore, schoolchildren are idle at home during this time of the year, and sometimes seek to entertain themselves with forces they don’t understand. Fire holds an inherent fascination for children, and it is never safe to assume they understand the dangers. Every year more than 35,000 fires are set by children of all ages and home fires claim the lives of more than 400 children under the age of nine.
These are troubling statistics, but by taking the proper precautions you can drastically reduce your family’s chances of being caught in a dangerous fire. The lists below cover a wide range of safety tips, but the most important things to remember are to attend to all sources of heat or possible flame, educate your family about how to prevent and survive a fire, and plan your response to various levels of danger a fire may represent.
– Have a fire extinguisher on every floor of your home plus one in the kitchen, and be sure all parties in your household know where they are located and how to use them.
– Make sure you have collapsible fire ladders on the upper levels of your home.
– Develop two fire escape routes, practice using those routes, and establish a specific meeting location outside your home.
– Make sure there are working smoke detectors on all levels of your home.
– Use caution when burning candles or using deep fryers.
– Check the labels on upholstered items for flammability ratings.
– Make sure your electrical wiring and circuits are up to code and correctly installed.
– Have your chimneys cleaned annually.
– Clean your dryer exhaust hose and check it regularly for lint build-up.
– Use grills under roofed areas such as a porch, deck, or screened outdoor room.
– Use a grill within 8 feet of your home or leave one unsupervised.
– Leave candles burning in an empty room.
– Allow children to operate grills.
– Overload electrical sockets.
– Leave space heaters unattended.
– Smoke in bed.
– Allow children to operate the stove or oven unsupervised.
IF A FIRE OCCURS, DO:
– If you are unable to get out, call 9-1-1 for help and provide your location in the house.
– Inform children not to hide or stay quiet
– Crawl low to the floor to avoid smoke inhalation.
– Remember escape is more important than contacting the fire department.
IF A FIRE OCCURS, DO NOT:
– Attempt to call the fire department before getting out of the house.
– Open a door if the knob is hot.
– Wait for others inside the house.
– Venture toward a large, powerful fire in an attempt to put it out.
– Go back into a burning home.
Above all, keep a level head. Regardless of how well-prepared for this situation you are, the reality of a fire in your home is a terrifying experience. Proceeding calmly and logically vastly improves your chances of getting yourself and your family out of the fire safely.
About the Author: Egena Younger works in the Chesterfield, Virginia branch of the personal injury law firm of Allen & Allen. She is a former insurance adjuster and works with supervising Attorney Trent S. Kerns to assist clients in settling their personal injury claims.