Keeping the Little Ones Safe From Fire

September is Baby Safety Month, but we've expanded the definition to look at all "babies," from infants to older children. Today, a lesson in fire safety for your children--and you.

Home fires can be quick and deadly. Every year, nearly 1,000 children 14 and younger die in home fires. Children often become confused in emergencies. Coaching them in what to do is as important as checking your home for potential hazards.

To prevent fires and protect your home:

* Keep matches, lighters and other heat sources out of children's reach.

* Remove anything too close to the fireplace, such as newspapers, furniture or clothing.

* Secure all portable heaters.

* Don't plug several appliances into the same electrical socket.

* Replace old appliance cords.

* Keep cords on top of rugs.

* Store all flammable liquids outside.

* Keep furniture and other heavy objects out of the way of doors and windows.

* Install smoke detectors.

* Test smoke detectors regularly. Batteries should be replaced at least once a year; detectors, every 10 years.

* Plan and practice two escape routes from each room.

* Designate an outside meeting place so all household members can be accounted for.

An unprepared child in a fire tends to hide rather than escape. A coached child has a better chance of reacting properly. Teach your child to:

* Recognize the smoke detector alarm.

* Crawl low under smoke when escaping.

* Cover mouth and nose with a moist towel or T-shirt when escaping.

* Touch doors before opening them; if the door is hot, use another exit.

* "Stop, drop and roll" to extinguish flames.

* Never go back into a burning building.

* Call 911 after leaving the building.

--Source: The National Safe Kids Campaign

* Next week: It's never too early to think about Halloween safety.


Safety Nets

For information on children's health and safety:

* American Academy of Pediatrics, P.O. Box 927, Elk Grove Village, IL 60009-0927. Internet: Brochures: Request in writing. Topics include chickenpox, children and drugs, car seats, HIV / AIDS facts, baby bottle tooth decay, allergies. Include a self-addressed, stamped, business-size envelope, note the brochure topic on the envelope and mark it Department C.

* The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Assn. offers "Safe & Sound for Baby," a 16-page brochure on the selection and safe use of baby products such as cribs, car seats and strollers. Send a self-addressed, stamped, business-size envelope to JPMA Safety Brochure, 236 Route 38-West, Suite 100, Moorestown, NJ 08057. Available in English and Spanish.

* For information about car-seat safety recalls, call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Auto Safety Hotline at (800) 424-9393.

* For information on the common causes of eye injuries and eye problems among children, contact Prevent Blindness America at (800) 331-2020 or write to Prevent Blindness America, 500 E. Remington Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173.

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