With families home due to pandemic, fire safety practices are necessary

Scott Jacobs
The New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board is offering tips to help people stay safe from fires while they are spending extended periods of time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Fire doesn’t take time off, even during a national pandemic,” said David Kurasz, executive director of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, in a statement provided by the advisory board. “With so many people stuck at home, daily routines are far from normal and the added stress of the situation can result in normal safety practices falling by the wayside.”

A fire can start in seconds and spread in minutes, on average giving residents only three to five minutes to safely escape.

“By incorporating some simple safety practices for the whole family, you can help reduce the chances of injury and fire breaking out in your home,” Kurasz said in the statement.

He offered some preventative types for various types of fires:

• Electrical Fires: Avoid overloading electrical outlets and power strips which can overheat, spark and cause fire. Check all extension cords to ensure they are rated for proper use and that they are not damaged or frayed. Turn off all computer/gaming equipment before retiring.

• Candles/Open Flames: If using candles make sure they are placed out of the reach of children and pets who can knock them over. Keep candles away from curtains, bedding and other flammable materials. Follow the 3-foot safety rule for “open flames” such as fireplaces, wood burning stoves and fire pits to keep children, pets and flammable materials at a safe distance.

• Cooking: Keep all flammable materials such as dish cloths, paper towels, recipe books, etc., away from heat sources. Never leave cooking food unattended on a stove. Use devices only as directed: pressure cookers, toasters, ovens, slow cookers, air fryers, etc. Follow the 3-foot safety rule around cooking equipment when children are present to avoid injury.

Families should also create an escape plan that includes escape routes and a safe meeting place away from the home. Make sure that all windows, doors and hallways are clear of clutter that might block a potential exit. Install and test fire alarms in hallways and bedrooms and replace batteries frequently.

According to Kurasz, having a fire sprinkler system installed is one of the safest most effective ways to protect your family and home from fire. Fire sprinklers react in minutes, often controlling fires before the fire department arrives. Sprinklers can also reduce the risk of dying in a fire by 80 percent and minimize property damage by 70%, according to the statement.

“We want to make sure that people not only stay healthy, but that they stay fire safe during this crisis by incorporating simple fire safety steps that can protect their family now and for years to come,” Kurasz said in the statement.

For more information, visit www.SaveAndProtect.org.