As summer approaches, are your windows kid-proof?

window safetyWe’re a little late in jumping on the National Window Safety week bandwagon – it runs from April 3 to 9 this year – but we’d maintain that window safety isn’t an issue that should be confined to a single week of the year. The National Safety Council says that “Window Safety Week coincides with the arrival of spring, when homeowners naturally want to open the windows and let in fresh air. Its goal is twofold: For families to understand the role of windows in escaping a fire or other emergency and to learn to safeguard against accidental window falls.”

Every room should have two ways to exit – usually, that is at least one door and one window. The National Safety Council offers these window safety tips as part of your escape plan.

  • Make sure windows are not nailed or painted shut
  • Do not install air conditioners in windows that may be needed for escape
  • Make sure at least one window in each bedroom meets escape and rescue requirements
  • Window guards, security bars, grilles or grates render windows useless in an emergency unless they have a release mechanism; update them if necessary
  • Develop an emergency escape plan and practice it during the day and at night
  • Keep emergency escape ladders in second- or third-story bedrooms and teach everyone in the home how to use them

If you have young children, you have another safety issue to consider. Every year, more than 3,300 children under the age of 5 fall from windows, suffering injuries serious enough to send them to the hospital; sadly, about eight children a year die from these falls.

The Window Safety Task Force offers these tips to protect children from window falls:

  • Avoid the placement of furniture near windows to prevent children from climbing
  • Do not rely on insect screens to prevent a window fall
  • Keep children’s play away from open windows and doors
  • Install building code-compliant devices designed to limit how far a window will open or window guards with release mechanisms to help prevent a fall
  • Teach your child how to safely use a window to escape during an emergency

Here are some additional tools:

Window Safety Brochure
Fire Escape and Window Safety: A Balanced Approach
Window Safety Checklist

Winter fire safety: a few quick reminders

It’s peak season for home fires. While cooking is the leading cause of home fires year round, heating-related fires are a close second during the winter months – think space heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces. Use of inappropriate and unsafe materials during power outages can also lead to winter fires – relying on candles for lights, using a gas range for heat or a portable grill for cooking. The latter can also result in carbon monoxide poisoning, as can running a generator in or too close to the home.

Here are some short videos from FEMA that offer quick reminders about fire safety.

And with all this snow, don’t forget to dig out your nearest fire hydrant – a mere few minutes can make the difference when it comes to fire.

Your Cat Has an Important Safety Reminder for You This Weekend


If cats could talk, they’d remind you that this week is Daylight’s Savings Time so you need to set your clock ahead one hour. Plus, they’d tell you that it’s a good time to change the batteries in your smoke detector and your carbon monoxide detectors.

What, you think your cat doesn’t care?

Not true… the idea that cats are aloof is a just a myth — and we can prove it. Just last week, a cat named Meatball saved eleven people by waking its human when it smelled smoke in a French farmhouse. But don’t count on the cat detector method to save your family – change your batteries this weekend.

Check out this cute video, a Cat’s Guide to Taking Care of Your Human to see some other ways that our cats look out for us.

Have you watered your Christmas tree today?

If not, go do it now. Really! Here’s dramatic evidence of how flammable a dry Christmas tree can be as opposed to a tree that is watered regularly. This test was conducted by the National Fire Protection Association and Underwriters Laboratories.

Arson Awareness Week, May 2-8, 2010

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) announces that May 2 through 8 is Arson Awareness Week. This year’s theme is Community Arson Prevention.
According to the USFA’s National Fire Incident Reporting System data and the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated average of 316,600 intentional fires are reported to fire departments in the United States each year causing injuries to 7,825 firefighters and civilians. In 2006, ten firefighters died as a result of arson. In addition to needless injury and death, an estimated $1.1 billion in direct property loss occurs annually.
In conjunction with this event, FEMA has issued a 22-page booklet, Community Arson Prevention (PDF), which includes tips and resources for arson prevention including:

  • 5 steps for starting a community watch program – pages 2 – 3
  • Arson prevention tips for businesses – pages 3 – 4
  • Arson prevention tips for churches – pages 4 – 5
  • Arson prevention tips for schools – pages 6 – 9
  • Wildfire prevention tips – page 13
  • State & local initiatives – pages 10 – 17
  • Links & Resources – page 20

Materials from prior years are also valuable. Last year, the Arson Awareness Week theme focused on Arson For Profit (PDF, 16 pages), covering such topics as vehicle arson, arson in abandoned buildings, property arson by those who have fallen behind on mortgages or boat payments, house flipping arson, arson to recoup monies from a failing business, arson to eliminate competitors or to take revenge.
In 2008, the focus was Toylike Lighters: Playing With Fire (PDF – 8 pages) focusing on the dangers of toy-like or novelty lighters in the hands of children.
In 2007, the focus was Vehicle Arson: Who Pays for This Crime? (PDF, 9 pages).