We’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.
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.
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.
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.
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).