The Safety Net

Fire Prevention Actions


October is Fire Safety Month and the week of October 6 –12, 2002 is Fire Prevention Week. Many regional center staff routinely visit sites where consumers live and work. You may see things in these settings that could be dangerous but that could be easily corrected, thereby averting a catastrophe. Licensed homes are inspected but a lot can change since the time of the inspection. Private homes and supported living situations may have some dangers, too.

This month is a good time to list some reminders of things to look for regardless of where you are, even in your own home!

Smoke detectors save more lives than any other preventative measure in the case of fire. Be sure they are working and remind consumers and families to change batteries when they change their clocks, twice a year. There should be one smoke detector on each floor of the home and, preferably, one in each bedroom.

Every consumer should have a bedroom with two ways to exit. This is usually a door and a window, but it might be a room with two doors that lead to two different areas of the home. On the second floor, a safety ladder may be installed under a window to be used in the event of emergency escape. Consumers who need assistance with mobility should be nearest to the exits, unless they choose otherwise and then good escape plans need to be in place.

Ask to see the fire evacuation plan and fire drill documentation when in a licensed home but this an excellent idea for any home and especially if people who live there have special needs for assistance with evacuation. Note the last time a fire extinguisher was inspected by looking at the tag attached. Ask consumers what they are supposed to do in the event of a fire. There is no better way to ensure that the information, planning and practice are in place.
Notice if there are overloaded outlets in the home. If too many plugs get put into a socket there could be a real fire danger, particularly in older homes.

Note the location of telephones. Are they in places easily accessible in the event of a fire? Most fires start in the kitchen. If the phone is by the back door, the stove in the middle of the house and the living room beyond, then the phone would not be in a good place for access in case of fire. Frequently used items should not be stored above the stove. Reaching across a hot stove can cause burns. Note whether consumers or staff who cook are wearing appropriate clothing. Loose sleeves such as on a robe, have led to many severe burns. Cooking is the leading cause of residential fires.

Where temperatures are generally mild and then there is a cold period, it is not uncommon for temporary heaters to be used. These heaters are the third leading causes of household fires. They should be inspected and be in good condition. Newer ones have safety shut-offs if they are accidentally tipped over. Note where the heater is placed and if there is room to pass without tripping over it.

Are halls crowed with things that would make it difficult to get out if it was dark and smoky? Encourage clean up and alternate storage for things like bicycles and laundry baskets.

The leading cause of fatal fires is smoking. It is also the second leading cause of non-fatal residential fires. Ask consumers what their smoking practices are? Does it sound safe? How are ashes disposed?

October is a good time to assist other to become more aware of fire dangers and good preventative practices!

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