In a fire, thick black smoke can turn your residence into a labyrinth of obstacles preventing escape. As a test, close your eyes and, with some help from a seeing person, attempt to exit your home from several locations. Not an easy task, as familiar surroundings become anything but in total darkness. A changed perspective makes all the difference.
Using the exercise above is a good means to educate family members about the importance of having and practicing an escape route in the event of a house fire.
A change in perspective also can help in preventing a fire. Walk through your house with a fresh set of eyes focused solely on identifying possible fire hazards. Hazards you might want to be on the lookout for include:
• Kitchen - Are towels and other flammable items placed too close to the stove or toaster oven? Do you unplug small appliances such as the coffeemaker and toaster when not in use?
• Bathroom - Make sure all hair styling tools (irons, dryers, etc.) are unplugged when not in use.
• Bedroom - An electric blanket should not be tucked in at the sides or covered with a quilt as it could overheat.
• Family room - In today’s home, family rooms have more electronics plugged in than ever before. Make sure to not overload circuits by plugging too many items in one outlet. Likewise, recessed lighting holds in heat, so it’s imperative to use the correct Wattage bulb (if you don’t know, use 60 or less Watts).
• Basement/utility room - Store combustibles away from the furnace, boiler, or water heater.
It’s amazing how different things can look with a fresh perspective. So take time this month to survey your home for hazards and correct them. Don’t forget to review your evacuation plan as well. For more fire prevention tips, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website here.