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Safe Kids New Jersey mourns the recent deaths of a grandmother and her four young grandchildren as a result of a tragic house fire in South Plainfield.  This certainly is a grim reminder that we should all take stock of the fire prevention measures in all of our homes.

Because young children may not perceive danger as readily or may lack the ability to escape a life-threatening fire, make sure they are not exposed to open flames or other fire risks, and take precautions to avoid fire in the home.

Here is a comprehensive list of fire safety tips:

  • Install smoke alarms in your home on every level and near each sleeping area or bedroom. Test them once a month, replace the batteries at least once a year and install new alarms every ten years. (Ten-year lithium alarms do not require battery changes each year.)
  • For the best protection against different types of fires, consider installing both ionization alarms (better at sensing flaming fires) and photoelectric alarms (better at sensing slow, smoky fires) or dual sensor alarms.
  • Keep children away from cooking and heating appliances. Make area around the stove a “Kid-Free Zone” (3 feet is a good distance). Never leave the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling. If baking or simmering, check on the food frequently. Never leave a child alone in the kitchen.
  • Keep matches, candles, gasoline, lighters and all other flammable materials locked away and out of children’s reach.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Place candles in a safe location away from combustible materials and where children or pets cannot tip them over.
  • Place space heaters at least 3 feet from curtains, papers, furniture and other flammable materials. Always turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Avoid plugging several appliance cords into the same electrical socket. Replace old or frayed electrical wires and appliance cords, and keep all cords on top of rugs. Cover unused electrical outlets with safety devices.
  • Never smoke in bed. Extinguish all cigarettes before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Plan and practice several fire escape routes from each room of the home and identify a safe outside meeting place. Practicing an escape plan may help children, who can become frightened and confused, to escape to safety in a fire.
  • Sleep with bedroom doors closed to prevent smoke, gas or heat from entering the rooms.
  • Keep furniture and heavy objects away from doors and windows, so they won’t block escape.
  • Teach children never to hide in the event of a fire. Teach them the proper way to get out of the house: Leave immediately if you hear the smoke alarm, smell smoke or see flames. If there is smoke, to stay low and crawl.
  • Always feel doors with the back of your hand before opening them. If one is hot, do not open it; find another way out.
  • Also teach children never to go back into a burning building. Call 911 or the fire department only from a neighbor’s home or a cell phone outside the home. When firefighters arrive, immediately tell them if someone is inside or missing.

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