January is Fire Safety Month, and even though it’s the last day of the month, it’s never too late to talk about such an important topic.
You see, I’m a little bit of a “fire safety nut”. For example, about a year ago I took my family on a weekend ski trip to Upstate NY. We stayed in a beautiful, well maintained cabin. It comes time for bed (it’s late, we’ve had a long day of skiing) and all of the kids in our group are staying on the bottom floor. Oh, and the electric fire place is their main source of heat. The mama in me immediately goes into panic mode and feels the need to test all of the smoke (and carbon dioxide) detectors in the house. Without consulting with any of the other, more level headed adults in the house, I reach for the first detector I see. Just as I press the “test button” the entire house alarm goes off, we immediately hear the firetruck alarms going off way at the bottom of the mountain and my cell phone rings. Oh, it’s just the homeowner calling to check on us. [Insert embarrassed face.] Long story short, the firemen came, checked the place out, everyone had a good laugh, and I slept very soundly knowing the house was safe. Phew!
While you may have a similar alarm system in place (and I promise you I won’t go testing your smoke alarms while I’m at your house), the postpartum doula in me wants to keep you and your family safe and protected.
Here are a my top 5 fire safety tips to consider:
Cover all your bases. This means if you don’t have a system like the Nest in place which covers your entire home, be sure to have a smoke detector in every bedroom and outside every sleeping area. I also recommend having one on each level of your home, including the basement and attic. It’s equally as important to be sure to test the batteries often, at least twice a year when we change the clocks.
“Close before you doze”. Fire spreads much more quickly when it has a good source of oxygen. Keeping the bedroom doors closed can help slow the spread of the fire and reduce the levels of toxic smoke, giving you more time to safely exit the home. It buys you valuable time and could literally be the difference between life and death.
Have a plan. Does your family have any escape plan? Who will be in charge of the children? Perhaps you have older children in the house. Do they know the escape plan? You should always have a plan for two ways out of each room and include a meeting spot once outside. This can include a neighbors house or even the mailbox. This will also allow you to account for everyone in the home. Here are some great suggestion from ready.gov on children and fire safety.
Be sure your home is well marked. This may seem obvious, but I’m always shocked at the amount of homes that don’t have a house number clearly visible. Get your house number on your home and be sure it’s well lit!
Avoid the common causes. While the typical house fires start from cooking, candles and faulty wiring, lithium-ion batteries and space heaters are also just as guilty and have recently been added to the list of most common causes. If you are using a space heater be sure it is certified by one of the major testing organizations, has an automatic shutoff and anti-tip protection. Lithium-ion batteries are commonly found in E-bikes, scooters and solar power backup storage. One of the top tips from the experts…do not buy from aftermarket companies, do not charge them overnight and store them outside when possible.
While it’s a difficult topic to discuss and we all think it will never happen to us (guilty!), it can happen anywhere at any time and should be an important discussion in your home. I hope these tips will help you begin the conversation and create a safe plan. It is of the utmost importance that your family and our doulas remain safe.