WHEATFIELD, N.Y. (WIVB) – October is Fire Prevention Month, so it’s a good time to take stock of your family’s safety plans.
One of the big messages this year: Check the dates on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Most smoke detectors are good for five to seven years before they need to be replaced. Starting in January 2017, all smoke detectors sold in New York State will have to be the ten-year type. They have lithium batteries, which cannot be removed from the casing.
All smoke detectors should be tested monthly to make sure they’re in good working order if the worst should happen. “Every 30 seconds, a fire doubles in size. So that 20, 30 seconds of that alarm going off could save your life and your family’s life,” said Richard Silvaroli, past chief with the Frontier Volunteer Fire Company,
Families should also test out their exit plans. Silvaroli reminds everyone to have two exits, and to designate a meeting point outside their homes. Families should practice their escape drills regularly.
Families should also have a fire extinguisher on hand, to be able to put out small fires when possible. You’ll need the right extinguisher for the job. A water can, for example, can be used for fires involving cotton, paper, and other combustibles that create ashes. An ABC dry chemical extinguisher is good for normal combustibles, grease fires, oil fires, and electrical fires.
Of course, fire prevention is key, especially in the kitchen, where 68 percent of house fires begin. Silvaroli advises simple steps like keeping paper towels at a safe distance, being careful not to close towels in the oven door, turning pot handles in so they can’t be pulled off the stove, and remembering to pay attention when you’re cooking.
With the Halloween season now upon us, we’ll all need to pay attention to some extra hazards, like candles in our jack-o-lanterns and trick-or-treaters in the streets. Silvaroli says your best bet is to use LED lights instead of real-flame candles, especially near Halloween or fall displays that involve straw, corn stalks, or other items that can easily go up in flames.
If you are using real candles, never leave them unattended and make sure you keep them far away from curtains.
Safety should be a top priority all year round, but Fire Prevention Week and Month are good reminders. This campaign is held every year around this time, near the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, which killed hundreds of people in 1871.