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New Year's Resolution: Practice Fire Escape Plans at Home

by the Social Diary Safety Educator Columnist Monica Zech
Column #2, January 5th, 2006

From Safety Educator Monica Zech and Safe Kids WorldWide

In my work, I see most fires, along with deaths and injuries are preventable. Please take a moment to look over the following safety advice and discuss this with your family and/or post at the workplace. If you'd like a fire safety lecture contact me at (619) 441-1615. - Monica Zech

Nationwide, every year, nearly 40,000 children ages 14 and under are injured in residential fires, and more than 500 die . Approximately four out of five fire-related deaths and injuries occur in the home, yet only one family out of four has developed and practiced a fire escape plan. Safe Kids Worldwide urges parents and caregivers to make a household New Year's resolution to hold fire drills at home until everyone knows how to get out safely in an emergency.

Fire is especially dangerous to young children - ages 5 and under. They don't recognize the danger and don't know how to react Every year, dozens of children die while trying to escape from fires. Please lock away matches and lighters.

Plan and practice several different escape routes from each room, and identify a safe place to meet outside. Teach children never to go back into a burning building, and to call the fire department from a neighbor's home or a cell phone outside the home.

Most fire-related fatalities are caused by smoke inhalation. A working smoke alarm cuts your chances of dying in a fire by about 50 percent. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home and outside every sleeping area - and test them every month and change the batteries twice a year (Smoke alarms are also available with 10-year lithium batteries.)

Make sure everyone knows what to do when the smoke alarm goes off! Never assume it's not a real fire.

Teach kids to:

Yell "fire" and get out immediately, not stopping to collect any belongings.
Not open a closed door until they have made sure it is not hot to the touch and there is no smoke coming from behind it.
Meet at a planned location outside.
"Stop, drop and roll" if their clothing catches on fire.

In 2003, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 402,000 residential fires, or one every 79 seconds. Home fires are most often caused by cooking equipment; however, more children die in fires caused by tobacco products or by children playing with matches or lighters.

Additional information on fire safety please visit our website at El Cajon Fire.com .

* Monica Zech is the Public Information Officer and Safety Educator for the City of El Cajon and for El Cajon Police and Fire Departments. For safety tips please visit El Cajon Fire.com In community work, Zech is the Vice President on the board for the Trauma Research Education Foundation-TREF and a board member with Communities Against Substance Abuse-CASA. In March, Monica received the County's 2005 Individual Health Champion Award for her safety lectures in the community and throughout the county. Zech's Web Site

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