Plan ahead: Fire dangers increase with mild winter

By Katrina Goforth -

As Oklahoma enters the drier part of the year, with cooler temperatures, higher winds and lower humidity, the risk of fire increases. But every fire can be prevented with a little planning and preparation.

The American Red Cross reports that it responds to nearly 64,000 disasters, most of which are home fires. Seven people die daily from a house fire, most are children or elderly who can’t get out of a burning home on their own. Thirty-six people suffer injuries related to house fires daily and more than $7 billion in property damage occurs annually.

Developing fire-safe habits can prevent home fires by keeping items that can catch fire at least three feet away from things such as space heaters and stoves;

• smoke outside away from flammable fabrics and pressurized oxygen;

• douse cigarette butts with water before disposal;

• turn off portable heaters when leaving the vicinity or going to sleep; and

• never leave a burning candle unattended.

Preparing your home for a fire emergency is as easy as installing a smoke alarm on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas such as a hallway. Testing smoke alarms every month and talking with all family members about a fire escape plan can help prepare your home for the unthinkable.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, items that block doors and windows could prevent escape in case of a fire. Along with making a plan with your family, unblocking exits could mean getting out in time.

A family plan should include identifying every possible exit and escape route, a floor plan of the home and an outside meeting place that is stationary and practice the plan with everyone in the household.

If a fire does occur, getting out and staying out until help arrives can prevent further injury and death.

By Katrina Goforth

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