During October, with school in full swing, parents need to find the time to have that talk with their children about two very important safety issues - fire prevention and Halloween fun - according to the American Red Cross in Greater New York.
Every year, fire kills more people than all natural disasters combined. On average, fire kills more than 3,900 people (850 children) and injures more than 20,000 each year. Also alarming is that more than 75 percent of residences do not have a fire escape plan.
During fire prevention week (October 7-13), or at any time during the month, talk with children about preventing fires and how to escape safely from one at home. Repeat this conversation regularly throughout the year.
Here are some tips from the American Red Cross:
Take care of your smoke alarm: Install smoke alarms outside each sleeping area and on each level of your home. Check each smoke alarm once a month and replace dead batteries as soon as possible. Dust your smoke alarms once a month.
Have a fire extinguisher: Know how to use the fire extinguisher. Recharge the extinguisher according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Have an escape route: Determine at least two ways to escape from every room of your home, and consider escape ladders for bedrooms on the second floor. Pick a location a safe distance from your home to meet after a fire. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.
Stay in the room with the door closed if smoke, heat or flames block your exit routes. Signal for help using a bright-colored cloth at a window. If there is a phone in the room, call the fire department and tell them where you are.
Escape safely: Once you have exited stay out of your home. Call the fire department from your neighbor’s home. If you must exit through smoke, crawl low beneath the smoke. Use your second way out if fire or smoke is blocking your original escape route. Feel the doorknob of a closed door before opening it. If it is hot, do not open that door. Remember to stop, drop and roll if your clothing catches on fire.
On Halloween, the streets will be crowded with goblins, witches and super heroes. Think ahead about safety. Begin to talk to children about safe fun several days before Halloween. Repeat the message before they head out the door to join their friends.
Tell your children: Only to visit homes in daylight or where the porch light is on at night. Accept treats at the door. Never enter homes. Be cautious of animals and strangers. Walk on sidewalks. If you must walk in the road, face traffic. Cross streets only at crosswalks. Never cross in the middle of the road or between parked cars.
Be sure to: Give your child a flashlight. Place reflective material on shoes or costumes and don’t permit long or baggy clothing that could cause falls. Keep children away from candles and open flames as costumes are flammable. Plan a safe route and chaperon young children. Inspect candy prior to eating and discard any candy if packaging has been opened.
If you drive on Halloween: Travel at least five miles under the speed limit in residential neighborhoods. Broaden your visual scanning to sidewalks and yards. Watch carefully as dark costumes are difficult to see at night. Use caution when entering and exiting driveways and alleys. Turn headlights on even in daylight to make a vehicle more visible to others.
Joan Foley is the Director of the American Red Cross in Greater New York – Queens.
In Queens, the American Red Cross in Greater New York responds to emergencies such as fires, floods and power outages. It also helps residents prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies by offering first aid, CPR, aquatics and other classes along with free emergency preparedness training programs and resources. The Red Cross is located at 138-02 Queens Boulevard in Briarwood. More information can be obtained by calling 718-558-0053, or visiting www.nyredcross.org.