How to Keep Your Home Fire-Safe for Your New Baby
by John Garland
Smokey was right when he said it: “Only YOU Can Prevent Baby Fires”. Okay, well, maybe that’s not exactly what he said, but he should have, because it’s the truth. As parents, fire safety is just one more thing we’ve got to become versed in when it comes time to bring our new baby home. With all the millions of other things you have to worry about when you’re preparing your home for your new family member, fire safety may not be the first thing on your mind. However, it is definitely something you should work into your overall baby-proofing, home-safety plan. Like everything else, taking a little bit of time for simple preventative measures now can make all the difference if, God forbid, something ever does go wrong.
Here are six basic things to do to keep yourself, your home, and your new baby safe from fire dangers.
1. Smoke Detector
This should be a no-brainer, as everyone is supposed to have at least a few of these in their house anyway. But just in case you don’t already have any, now is definitely the time to invest in them. While you’re at it, you should go ahead and get yourself a CO detector, as well. This is a little off-topic, but carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and deadly. It is a danger in all homes, and babies and children are particularly susceptible. Get a detector for that too. You’ll thank me when it goes off one day and you still can’t see or smell anything wrong.
If you do have these detectors, good for you! Now just take some time to go around your house and check the batteries. The best detectors in the world are worthless if they don’t have good, working batteries. You should make a habit of changing the batteries in your detectors about every six months. The best rule of thumb is to change the batteries in your detectors at the same time you turn your clocks back or forward. Just remember, “Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery”.
2. Fire Extinguisher
This is another no-brainer (hopefully). Get one, maybe two; they could really save your bacon at some point. In fact, if you get one of those fire extinguishers that say ABC on them, you could literally use it on your bacon if it ever catches on fire, as those extinguishers work on kitchen (grease) fires, as well as wood/paper and even electrical fires. A little side note here: If you ever do have a kitchen fire, do NOT throw flower, baking powder, or any other kind of powder on it, as it can ignite the cloud of particles and cause an explosion. And if you have a grease fire, do not throw water on that, as the water will sink to the bottom of the grease, boil, and then splatter hot liquid on you, leaving the fire still burning. Use your ABC extinguisher on a grease fire, or just put a lid over the pan that’s on fire and turn off the burner. No air for the fire = no more fire.
3. Matches and Lighters
Keep matches and lighters AWAY from your baby and children!!! Yes, you’ve heard it a million times. Well, hear it once more, because matches and lighters are still somehow finding their way into the hands of children around the country, who still start fires with them, sometimes with horrifically tragic consequences. Make absolutely, positively sure that these items are NO WHERE to be found around your home or car, and teach your children as soon as they are old enough to start understanding that they must NEVER touch these items, and to tell you if they ever find them on the street or anywhere else.
Get rid of your candles. Candles are simply a humungous fire hazard, and cause an enormous number of residential fires every year. Yeah, it sounds stupid. Nobody just lights a candle and then forgets about it, or leaves it next to combustible material, or falls asleep and lets it just keep burning, right? Well, actually they do. Just ask the 15,600 people who caught their houses on fire with a candle last year. Even if you can be trusted with candles because you’re super duper careful, babies and children can NOT, so you are not going to need those candles for a LONG time. So go ahead and gift them to someone you think is smart enough to beat the odds — or at least who doesn’t have children to knock them over.
5. Water Heater
If you have a water heater in your house, you should keep that puppy closed off from your baby when he or she starts crawling around the house. Have you ever gone right down next to the ground at the foot of your water heater and looked around? There’s a tiny little pilot light down there (read: FLAME) that is just super-fascinating when you’re a toddler, and it makes lots of pretty colors when you stick little bits of stuff in there and they catch on fire. Children are like moths to a flame around water heaters. (I would stop using these puns, but frankly, they just keep coming to me.) Take it from me — I know someone who used to do this when he was a kid and caught his mom’s laundry room on fire.
6. Three Words
Stop, Drop, and Roll. They taught it to you in kindergarten, and it’s as true now as it was back then. No matter how big or small you are, those are the magic words, folks. Use them in a hot second if the time ever comes, and teach ‘em to your children as early as you can. Demonstrate to your toddler what you mean, and have them do it with you. Try to see if you can make them your baby’s first words. Seriously, it’s important. It sounds too simple, but it really does save lives.
There are many things that go into keeping a fire-safe home with babies and children, but these should give you a good start. The more research you can do to arm yourself against fire danger the better, as this is just a short list of important points. But until then, keep this list on hand and follow it. For the sake of yourself, your family, and your new baby, don’t put fire safety on the back burner!
These fire safety tips were brought to you by Essential Fire Safety.