Get fired up about safety

Parents have been all fired up, asking me questions about how to keep their homes safe from fire. Let me see if I can provide some hot tips on this topic, especially since National Safe Kids Week is April 28 to May 6.

Every two-and-a-half hours, someone in the U.S. dies in a fire, and children under age five are at the greatest risk.

To prevent this tragedy from occurring, first, make sure your smoke alarms work. Replace the batteries at least twice a year, test it every month, and make sure your children know what that alarm means.

Have at least one fire extinguisher placed strategically in your house, preferably in the kitchen. Check the gauge each year to make sure each extinguisher is still functional. Plan an escape route with your family, and think about at least two exits from each room, should one of the ways out be blocked.

Practice the route with a home fire drill, and have a meeting place outside the house where everyone can gather safely in the event of a fire.

Dont forget to teach your children some fire safety tips including:

Cover your mouth and nose with a moist towel to keep from inhaling fumes.

Crawl under smoke.

Do not open any door if it is hot to touch.

Stop, drop, and roll if your clothes are on fire.

Parents need to practice safe cooking habits, including asking your children to stay out of the kitchen while youre cooking. Make sure your appliances do not have frayed cords. Keep portable space heaters away from flammable objects and at least three feet away from other furniture, curtains, or clothes.

Finally, remind your children to never play with matches or lighters.

Hopefully tips like this will extinguish any concerns you have when it comes to knowing about fire safety in your home.

Lewis First, M.D., is chief of pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. You can also catch "First with Kids" weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and on WCAX-TV Channel 3. Visit the First with Kids archives at www.vermontchildrens.org.

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