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Fire kills more people every year than all other natural disasters in the United States combined. Most fires are preventable. Following a safety checklist and educating your family (especially small children) will help to safeguard your family in the event of a fire emergency.

FIRE HAZARDS

1. SPACE HEATERS require space. Most space heater fires begin because the heating unit was placed too closely to an object. Allow a minimum of three feet between a space heater and anything else in the room. Never leave space heaters unattended, especially in children's rooms or play areas and never place a space heater next to child's bed, where blankets and sheets can fall on top of the unit.

2. ELECTRIC CORDS can fray, crack and split, leaving you in danger. Monitor cords in your home monthly, especially if you have children or pets. Replace worn or cracked cords immediately.

3. LIGHTERS and MATCHES and GRILL STARTERS are a curiosity for small children, especially when they see you operating them.. Teach your children the dangers of playing with matches and lighters, and leave all such objects out of reach.

4. CIGARETTES and smoldering ashes can burn for hours before starting a fire. Properly extinguish all materials and don't smoke in bed or other sleeping areas.

5. GREASE fires can begin in an instant in the kitchen and spread rapidly. Keep salt or baking soda on hand in the kitchen to reduce any possible hazards. Remember to instruct your children never to add water to a grease fire!

PREVENTION As with many things, preventing a fire is easier than dealing with one. You can help protect your family by:

1. Installing and Monitoring SMOKE DETECTORS in every room and hallway in the house; it is the simplest way to protect yourself. Fire experts recommend placing smoke detectors inside the entryway of each room and in each hallway. Don't forget basements and attics. Fire can begin in these areas, too. Check and replace batteries monthly. Also, be sure to test your smoke detector to be sure it's working properly each month. The average life of a smoke detector is ten years, after which time they should be replaced.

2. Having a portable FIRE EXTINGUISHER on hand (especially in hazard areas, such as the kitchen) will bring added safety to your home. Be certain your fire extinguisher bears the seal of an independent testing laboratory and is in good working order. You can purchase different sized fire extinguishers for different areas and also fire extinguishers that are made to extinguish particular types of fires. Be certain your children know how to safely operate each type of extinguisher before mounting them, and be sure to mount them low enough for children to reach.

3. Plan and practice an ESCAPE PLAN with your children. Every room should have two exits available. Have a practice fire drill and make certain every member of your household knows how to escape, if need be.

4. Instruct your children on what to do in case their clothing catches fire. The STOP, DROP and ROLL procedure, DOOR CHECKING and CRAWLING TECHNIQUE should be acted out and practiced, especially by small children.

STOP, DROP and ROLL If your clothing catches fire, do not run. Stop where you are and drop to the ground. Cover your face with your hands to protect your skin and lungs and roll repeatedly until fire is extinguished. Promptly remove your clothing.

CRAWLING TECHNIQUE It is imperative to stay low during a fire. Crawling on your hands and knees can prevent dangerous smoke inhalation and the possibility of your clothing catching fire.

DOOR CHECKING Smoke is equally as dangerous as flames. Before attempting to open any door during a fire, feel the door and handle for warmth. If they are hot, turn back. Check the baseboards and cracks under the door for smoke. Do not attempt to open if smoke is pouring into the room from these areas. If the door appears safe, open slowly and make your exit.

BURNS Burns can happen in an instant, whether you're dealing with a simple grease fire or house fire. Never cover burns. This will only retain heat and cause scarring and possible infection. Should you suffer a burn, immerse in cool (not cold) water immediately. If the wound chars or blisters, contact your local Emergency Room immediately.