Friday, July 10, 2009

Fire safety season

Stop, drop and roll. For many of us, these fire safety tips are nearly as familiar as our ABCs. But as important as these instructions are, it is even more important to prevent fires from occurring in the first place. Learning safe fire practices can help.

In parts of the western United States, July brings dry conditions and summer storms that provide perfect environments for dangerous fires that can rumble through forests, hillsides and homes. Whether you are camping in the woods or barbequing in your backyard you should build fires away from nearby trees or bushes and have a way to put out the fire quickly and completely if it looks as though it may be getting out of control. Also, try to avoid open burning and never leave a fire unattended.

Prepare your home as well. Install smoke alarms and test them once a month. Replace the batteries when needed and replace your smoke alarms at least every 10 years. Additional safety measures include creating a 30-foot safety zone in which you limit dry vegetation around your house. You can also use fire-resistant siding, remove flammable debris from under decks and porches and avoid flammable roofing materials like wood, shake and shingle.

Even with these preparations in place, it is still vital to prepare for the worst. If a fire does reach your home, having an escape plan could be the difference between life and death. Establish at least two ways to escape from every room of your home and select a location outside your house where everyone in your family will meet. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.

Fire can ruin homes and devastate lives. However, with smart fire safety practices and good preparation, you can help reduce the chance these disasters will affect your loved one and property. After all, better to prepare for and prevent fire than having to stop, drop and roll.

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