Cooking is the No. 1 cause of home fires, and a significant contributor to home fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
It's a good idea for parents to talk to their children about fire safety in the home.
"Children practice fire drills at school, and adults practice them in the workplace, but many families have not practiced a fire escape plan in their homes," says Kathy Krafka Harkema, Pella Windows and Doors spokesperson and fire safety educator. "Make the time to help protect your loved ones. Consider what you can do to observe fire safety, as well as window and door safety."
Through its Close the door on fire® campaign, Pella encourages consumers to practice home safety year-round:
Identify, Prepare, Practice
• Evaluate fire safety risks inside your home and immediate surroundings. Equip your garage with smoke detectors since garage fires can start and spread quickly. Also, properly extinguish fire in indoor fireplaces or outdoor fire settings like grills or fire pits to help prevent the risk of fire spreading around your home or elsewhere. Check for local burn ban ordinances and follow them.
• Identify two exits - Designate two exits from every room in your home -- a door and a window. Make sure doors and windows open quickly and easily to help ensure a quick exit; if not, consider replacing them for safety's sake.
• Have a plan - Draw a floor plan of each level of your home. Before an emergency strikes, establish and communicate a meeting place a safe distance outside your home for your household members to gather in the event of a fire.
• Check the alarms - Install working smoke alarms in or near every sleeping area and on every level in your home. Test alarms monthly, change batteries regularly, and every 10 years replace alarms not permanently wired into your home's electrical system.
• Make smart purchases - Keep fire extinguishers in your home. If your home includes more than one story, consider keeping a fire escape ladder in bedrooms and sleeping areas to help prepare for an exit from an upper story in the event of an emergency. Mark their location on your home fire plan and share this information with those in your home. Since many fires start in the kitchen, keep a fire extinguisher in or near your kitchen.
• Test the alarm - Sound smoke alarms when household members are awake so everyone knows what they sound like, and test your family's ability to awaken to alarms during sleeping hours. If those in your home don't awaken easily, assign someone to awaken sound sleepers in the event of an emergency.
• Practice makes perfect - Practice your home fire escape plan with everyone in your home at least twice a year. Practice your plan first in the daytime, to familiarize everyone in your home with what to do in the event of a fire, and then at night, when most home fires occur.
Fire safety especially critical during drought
• Keep grass cut short around your home and property.
• Remove dried leaves and other potentially flammable debris.
• Clear debris from your home's gutters.
• Trim and remove dead plant material, like trees and shrubs, from your landscaping.
• Observe burn bans and refrain from starting outdoor fires, including campfires, fire pits and grills with exposed embers.
Share window safety tips
• Keep children's play away from windows, doors and balconies.
• Teach people not to lean against a window screen. Insect screens are designed to keep bugs out, not to keep a person in a building.
• Keep windows closed and locked when not in use to let in fresh air. When opening windows for ventilation, open those that a child cannot reach like the upper sash on a double-hung window.
• Keep furniture like beds and dressers -- anything children can climb -- away from windows.
Published with permission from RISMedia.