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It has been a tremendously difficult fire season for California, as more than 117,000 acres of wildlife have been scorched this year alone. That’s more than double the recent five-year average for a typical California summer. With all this talk about fire prevention, drought and fire safety, it’s important to educate yourself and your family as to the proper procedures for prevention. This is the perfect chance to talk with your children about fire safety, as National Fire Prevention Week is the week of Oct. 4-10. As you prepare to discuss this week with your family, here is a quick safety checklist to make sure your home and your family are properly prepared.

Check smoke alarms
The first thing to do is to ensure you have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home (basement included). In addition, the NFPA recommends that you have a smoke alarm inside every bedroom and that you test your alarms at least once per month. If you’ve never tested your alarms, get the kids involved so they learn what your alarms sound like; that way, if the alarms ever do go off, the kids will know right away how to respond. Be sure to check the date on your smoke alarms as well, since any alarm more than 10 years old really should be replaced.

Plan escape routes
The next thing to address with the family is the best escape plan, should a fire start in your home. You’ll want to go over this plan with the family and you’ll want to make sure you can find two ways out of every room in the house. Although a fire is a tragedy and can be extremely destructive, you can turn the experience of being prepared into a fun game to play with the kids, as you challenge them to find the different ways out of each room. Once you’ve identified your plan, be sure to include a meeting place that is located outside your home, but that is far enough away that it will keep the whole family out of danger.

Practice fire drills
Once you’ve identified your escape route and meeting place, it’s time to have a fire drill with the family. Test the alarms, and have everyone run the drill as though a fire was actually happening. One the family is safely at the agreed-upon meeting place, be sure to go over the next steps, which include calling the fire department and making sure everyone else is safe. It’s also a good idea to have a fire drill twice a year, that way your whole family knows right away how to respond, should a fire actually happen.

Think your family is ready? Take this fire prevention week quiz with the kids to ensure everyone knows how to stay safe!

Article by Deborah Flomberg.
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