Keep your family safe from fires


Every year, hundreds of Long Island homes suffer fires that leave the lives of their occupants in shambles. A home is the one place where people should feel safe, and fire destroys that security, along with priceless possessions.

October is Fire Prevention Month, and now is as good a time as any to brush up on the safety tips that can not only keep us safe in the event of a fire, but keep a fire from starting in the first place. The key word is prevention.

It starts by eliminating potential hazards in your home:

• Keep items such as matches and lighters locked away in a high cabinet where children can’t reach them.

• Replace old or frayed electrical wires. Avoid plugging several appliance cords into a single outlet.

• Don’t leave food unattended on the stove or in the oven, and keep anything flammable away from cooking areas.

• Use candles carefully. On average, 35 house fires a day start because of candles. Make sure you always keep a burning candle in sight, and extinguish it before leaving the room. Never leave it near anything that could catch fire. Use a candleholder, and place it on a heat-resistant surface. For more tips, visit the National Candle Association’s website, www.candle.org.

• Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires, and these occur most frequently during the winter months. Keep your chimney clean, and keep items like upholstered furniture, mattresses, newspapers and clothing away from heating units.

Most home heating fires involve the use of portable heaters. Buy only a UL-approved heater, read the instructions carefully and keep the unit at least three feet away from anything flammable.

There are other steps you should take to be prepared in case there is a fire, to keep you and your family safe:

• Install smoke detectors on every floor of the house, even in the basement. There should be smoke detectors in every bedroom.

• Don’t just install them; make sure the units work, too. Replace the batteries every six months, and test every smoke detector once a month.

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