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Take fire safety seriously this and every week

This week is National Fire Prevention Week, a noteworthy opportunity to educate yourself and your family about the importance of fire safety and to make sure you are prepared.

The effort is intended to protect us and save lives.

Here’s a sobering number. So far in 2020, 41 Ohioans have perished in house fires, according to news reports tracked by the U.S. Fire Administration.

Did you know that cooking is the No. 1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries? Unattended cooking is the leading cause of fires in the kitchen. According to National Fire Protection Association, almost half of the reported home fires started in the kitchen.

That’s why home fires are so common and why preparation is key.

Along with preparedness, response from the trained firefighters we count on every day is equally crucial. So often our first responders risk everything to help keep us all safe.

Included inside today’s newspaper is a special section honoring Mahoning County firefighters. Especially noteworthy is a salute to Benjamin Hendershott of the Youngstown Fire Department, selected as 2020 Mahoning County Firefighter of the Year. The selection was based on dedication, loyalty, productivity and professionalism.

To help you think about being prepared, here are some important fire safety tips. The “it can’t happen to me” attitude is not the right answer. In fact, it can happen anywhere at anytime. And when it does, it’s too late to get prepared.

An important first step is to install smoke alarms and to replace the batteries at least once per year.

It also is imperative to check the smoke alarms at the homes of elderly family members to help identify fire hazards and correct them. It is also important to be cautious while smoking. Here are some other important tips:

• Install smoke alarms on every level of the home and inside every sleeping area.

• Check the alarm by pushing the test button every month.

• Never smoke in bed; keep lighters and cigarettes away from children.

• Never leave lit candles unattended; place them in sturdy holders on uncluttered surfaces, keeping them at least 1 foot away from anything that can burn, including curtains, bedding, furniture and carpeting.

• Have fireplaces, chimneys, wood stoves and coal stoves inspected and / or cleaned annually by a professional.

• Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended.

• Use caution when using space heaters; never leave them unattended, keep them at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn, and place them on a hard nonflammable surface, like a ceramic tile floor.

• Replace frayed extension cords; do not overload extension cords.

• Never overload electrical outlets; plug only one heat-producing appliance into an outlet at a time.

• Major appliances should not be plugged in using extension cords or plug strips; plug appliances and space heaters directly into the wall electrical outlet.

• Keep clothes and other items three feet away from gas water heaters.

• Clean the dryer lint screen after each load — lint is extremely flammable.

• Have fire extinguishers in the home and know how to use them.

• Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are not blocked by furniture or clutter.

• Sleep with your bedroom door closed with a smoke alarm in your bedroom; this can save lives by reducing toxic smoke levels and slowing down the spread of fire and smoke into bedrooms.

• If you need to escape out a window, close the door between you and the fire before opening the window to escape as a closed door slows down the spread of fire and smoke as you escape.

Be aware and be prepared. And take time to make sure all family members, including small children, know what to do if a fire breaks out in the home.

editorial@tribtoday.com

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