Calvin Coolidge, our country’s 30th President, was once quoted as saying, “Those who trust to chance must abide by the results of chance.” Undoubtedly, his belief in this concept was the driving force in prompting President Coolidge to sign a proclamation in 1925 that nationally observed Fire Prevention Week.
In 2000, the National Fire Prevention Protection Association (NFPA) took the matter a step further by declaring the month of October as National Fire Prevention month. Every October, the NFPA partners with entities such as schools and public utilities to educate the public on fire safety and prevention.
As part of National Fire Prevention Month, we are happy to provide you with these 10 ways to help ensure your family stays safer and warmer this winter.
1. Locate all of your home’s fire extinguishers.
Make sure that you have a fire extinguisher located on each floor of your home and in the garage as well. Mount fire extinguishers no higher than 5 ft from floor for optimal fire protection coverage in your home or business.
__ Make sure fire extinguishers are visible and in a designated area.
__ All family members have been made aware of where the fire extinguishers are located.
2. Review how to properly use fire extinguishers in the event of a fire.
Even though we may have sufficient fire extinguishers in the home to cover the entire home living and storage spaces, we still need to make sure everyone, ___ or older, is well aware how to operate an extinguisher. A popular method for using a fire extinguisher is the Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep or P.A.S.S method. Here is a link to the OSHA website that details this method.
__ Train your family members how to hold and actuate the fire extinguisher.
__ Educate your family members about the different types of fires and the importance of using the proper extinguisher for the type of fire encountered.
3. Ensure the tamper seal on your fire extinguishers are not broken.
On your home fire extinguishers you should make it a point to make October fire prevention month in your home, and take a few minutes (it will likely take only a few) and check the seals on all the fire extinguishers. Most likely the seal is only broken if it has been used and the contents have been discharged, but it may have happened accidentally. Either way, it’s well worth the few minutes it takes to confirm that all are intact and ready for discharge if needed.
4. Check the pressure of your fire extinguishers monthly.
Typically, fire extinguishers have a round pressure gauge located towards the top of the extinguisher. Make sure the needle is in the operable range. If your extinguishers are equipped with a test indicator, press the indicator and make sure the pressure reading is in the proper range.
__ Perform monthly inspections to ensure fire extinguishers have the proper amount of pressure. (A good rule of thumb is to check each first day of the month.)
5. Make sure the extinguishers are free of clogged nozzles, corrosion, and/or physical damage.
When you encounter a fire, you want to know you have a fire extinguisher that functions properly. It is recommended that you inspect your fire extinguishers annually for any defects.
__Perform annual inspections on your fire extinguishers to ensure they are free of physical damage, corrosion, and clogged nozzles.
6. Confirm that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
Part of every fire prevention plan should include installation and maintenance of smoke alarms and carbon dioxide detectors. Here are links to the Division of State Fire Marshal’s office that illustrate proper installation.
Smoke alarms. Carbon monoxide detector.
__ Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are on every level of your home and in living areas, including each bedroom.
__ Test your detectors monthly to ensure they are in proper working order
__ Change the batteries twice per year (ie. At the time change to and from daylight savings time).
__ Replace detectors that are 10 years old and older (Or, when the unit chirps, which is low-battery signal).
__ Vacuum and clean detectors regularly.
7. Perform regular chimney inspections and maintenance.
While many factors are involved in how often a chimney should be inspected, it is a good idea to have a professional inspection done annually. An inspection will help determine whether or not your chimney needs cleaned. Regular cleaning helps prevent buildup of creosote, which is a combustible by-product of charred wood. While we don’t endorse any particular company, we have had good success and satisfaction with Coalway. They have locations in our area at Apple Creek and Charm, Ohio.
__ Have annual inspections done
__ Have a chimney professional clean your chimney regularly
__ Make sure tree branches are at least 15 feet away from your chimney
8. Create and regularly review your family’s fire escape plan.
The cornerstone of every fire prevention plan is a fire escape plan. It is important to have a plan in place and make sure that all family members understand each part of the plan. If you have not created your fire escape plan, here is a link from the Division of State Fire Marshal’s office to help you develop your fire escape plan.
__ Make every family member aware of how the fire escape plan is performed and reinforced with periodic fire drills.
__ Make sure that furniture placement will not impede your designated exit strategy.
9. Stock and maintain an emergency supply kit.
An important part of every fire escape plan is an emergency supply kit. Depending on the climate or location of your home, fire response may take an extended amount of time. Preparing for these types of situations helps prevent a bad situation get worse. An emergency supply kit can be kept in an easily accessible location so that is can be picked up quickly in the event of a fire. An outdoor building such as a tool shed or detached garage is ideal place to store an emergency supply kit.
__ Put together an emergency supply kit that contains blankets, clothing, nonperishable food, safety supplies, and water
__ Store the emergency supply kit in an easily accessible location in the event of a fire.
10. Make a regular interior and exterior walk-through.
A key practice of fire prevention is performing regular visual checks of the interior and exterior locations of your property. While there is no rule of thumb as to when to perform these checks, try to stay on the lookout at all times for potential fire hazards.
__ Extension cords are of the right size, in the open, not under rugs or through partitions or openings, and they are for temporary use only
__ Electrical outlets are not over loaded and functioning properly
__ Attic, basement, closets and yard are all free of rags, papers and combustible materials
__ Lint filter on clothes dryer is cleaned after each use
__ Gasoline and kerosene are stored in properly designated and marked containers
__ Matches and lighters are kept away from sources of heat
To say that many things have changed since the President Coolidge was Commander in Chief of this great nation would be an understatement. One thing, however, that has not changed since 1925, is the importance of fire prevention. Following these tips will help ensure your family stays safe and warm this winter. We know you would agree that your family’s safety is too important to leave to chance.