Recently, I interviewed a real life Fire Captain about all things fire prevention and what to do if a fire does break out. We broke the interview down into a few blog posts so that you can easily find the information you are looking for. In the first blog post, we covered preventative items to have in your home. This time, we’re talking about real life fire scenarios he’s seen and what you and your family can do if you find yourselves in one of these situations.
For families, knowing what to do in the instance of an emergency is extremely important. In our house, my Fire Captain husband is often away overnight and for long shifts. That makes it even more important that my kids and I are prepared for anything that comes our way.
Here are 6 real life fire scenarios and what you can do if you find yourself in these situations:
Not knowing how to shut off utilities.
This would be water, electricity, and gas. Recently, a dad was replacing a water faucet at his house and he hadn’t shut off his water. He ended up flooding his entire second floor and the fire department had to respond to help him shut it off.
It’s good to know how to shut off your gas, especially on the west coast, incase of an earthquake You also want to know how to shut off your electricity at the breaker panels in case of an emergency.
You can find resources online with your utility providers to help you in locating the shut offs for each utility.
Starting an oven fire.
Oven fires can happen when you leave something in the oven for too long or when grease makes its way down to the heating element. I did this once when I was making tacos!
If you have an oven fire, you can close the oven door, which will cut off the oxygen supply to the fire or sprinkle some water into the oven. The water will expand into steam and steam will put out the fire.
If it is beyond that, just close the oven door and call 911.
Putting Metal in the Microwave.
Some people might think this is common knowledge, but based on the number of calls my husband has been on for this, I now know it’s not! This means don’t put utensils, tin foil, or any metal containers in the microwave. It’s also important to make sure your kids and teenagers know this one, too!
Your microwave manual should say not to microwave anything that could be magnetic. The microwave will react with the metal and cause it to overheat and possibly blow out your microwave.
Overloading your power outlets.
This is a big one! Many people use power strips and extension cords with multiple outlets to plug in things like heaters. They will even plug a power strip into another power strip, and then into another like a daisy chain. Sometimes, 6 cords running off of each other. This can cause a huge fire in the wall because it overloaded the circuit and melted the cords.
Things like electrical heaters use a lot of power and create a lot of heat. The cords get hot and can melt. If they are touching any furniture or cloth, this can cause a fire.
Don’t daisy chain or overload power strips or outlets. Plug directly into the wall or get an extension cord that is the proper length.
Leaving a bathroom fan on all day.
Bathrooms fans are not designed to run more than a few hours at a time. When you run a bathroom fan for more than a few hours, it can cause the motor to overheat and start a fire. Oftentimes, based on the placement of the bathroom fan, this will lead to a dangerous attic fire.
You can install a timer on your bathroom fan so that it will turn off after a set amount of time, preventing the motor from overheating and causing a fire.
Dropping a turkey into a deep fryer.
Lots of people love to deep fry their turkeys around the holidays but it might be more dangerous than you think! If you drop a turkey into a deep fryer too quickly it will cause a huge raging inferno ball that can harm those nearby and spread to other areas. The inferno ball can spread to an awning, fabric umbrella, or even the house.
But what do you do if you find yourself in one of these situations?
You can always be prepared ahead of time by having a plan! Practice your exit plan at home with fire drills. Hey, why not, the kids do them at school, do them at home, too. This will help to eliminate panic.
You don’t want your child to be scared and hide. You can go to your local fire station and introduce your child to fire fighters. Ask them to put on all of their gear so your child will know what they look like and sound like in full gear so they will feel comfortable and less anxious if they do see a firefighter in a dangerous situation.
If there is a fire in the home, get out as quickly as possible and call 911. If you are trapped, put towels under the doors to keep the smoke out and stay low.
Bonus Tip: Sleep with your bedroom door closed!
This might not seem like a big deal, but we’ve seen situations where an entire apartment was destroyed with the exception of the bedroom that had the door shut. If you don’t believe me, go check out my Instagram post about it, right here.
You can never prepare for an emergency enough. The thing about an emergency is you’ll never know when it is going to happen. When it does happen you’ll wish you had prepared more but it’s also the worst time to think about should have or would haves. Take some time to collect and check on the items mentioned here to remain as prepared as possible for a home fire emergency!
This world can be a scary place. The news is full of stories that tell us all of the awful things that can happen in the blink of an eye. I try not to live in fear but, at the same time, I don’t want to be naïve, either. It’s always best to be as prepared as we can possibly be for any situation. That’s why, a while back, I took a street tactical self defense class with an instructor who is ex-law enforcement and military.
The lessons I learned from my instructor were invaluable. So today, I’m sharing with you self defense tips and tricks for moms and kids right from my Self Defense Instructor. These are practical steps you can follow to keep yourself and your children safe. He and I brainstormed these ideas together with moms just like you in mind. Because I know how important it is to keep myself and my kids safe and I know you do, too.
These are the Three A’s of Self Defense: Awareness, Assessment, and Action.
Our first A is for AWARENESS. This is the phase where prevention is still possible. You want to make sure that you and your children are not easy targets. The best way to do that is to remain aware of your surroundings. Being aware of your surroundings is not limited to simply your location. You also want to be aware of the people who are near you.
One of the simplest ways to stay aware is to limit distraction, especially from devices. Keep your eyes up and scan your surroundings instead of looking down at your device. Remove your earbuds or airpods and stay alert.
If you are inside, take note of all entrances and exits. If you are outside, scan for any places that are not well lit or are concealed.
Take note of anything that seems unusual, suspicious, or out of place. Some things worth paying extra attention to are people sitting inside of a car parked next to yours or a van with dark tinted windows parked close to your vehicle.
Remember to be intentional about choosing parking spaces. Choose spaces that are close to the building and in well lit parts of the lot or parking garage. Always trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
At a certain point in a potentially dangerous situation, you’ll reach the phase where you need to evaluate and assess your risk and decide on your next moves.
When you hit the assessment stage, you are in a much better position if you followed the tips in the section above and you are aware of your surroundings. You never want to be caught off guard.
Take time in the moment to evaluate each of your options. You’ll need to fight the fear and stay calm so that you can do this with a level head. Then, pick your battles but do whatever is in your power not to go anywhere with your attacker.
If you found yourself in a situation where it is necessary to take action, you’ve reached the fight or flight phase. I hope for you and myself that we never have to use these tips but we need to know them, to give ourselves the best chance of survival.
You may become involved in a situation where it is necessary to fight for your life and the lives of your children. In this case, use whatever you have available to you. This might be a metal water bottle, your keys, or a pen. If you are super well prepared, you may even have pepper spray or a whistle on you. Use these items.
Use them in a strategic manner to strike in the areas where your attacker is the most vulnerable. Capitalize on any hesitation as an opportunity to escape. If you’ve surveyed your surroundings well, use an escape route that would be least convenient for your attacker to follow or catch up to you.
If you found this information helpful, please share it with other moms like you and share it with your children who are old enough to be on their own. The more we can help to spread this message, the more empowered us moms can be to keep ourselves and our kids safe.
And remember, a child can go missing in the blink of an eye. If that happens, I know you want to be as calm and as prepared as possible to locate and reunite with your missing child. Let us help you do that with our Child Safety Identification Kit. You can get your FREE kit by clicking here.
Let’s face it… we’re parents and we worry about everything, especially when it comes to our teens and social media safety. There are so many reasons why social media can be extremely dangerous with all of the horror stories of kids being lured, abducted, sexually assaulted, and bullied.
I know your teenager doesn’t want to be told what to do and what not to do, but by offering these guidelines you can set safe parameters for them to explore the entire world of social media without being bullied, ripped off, scammed, or disrespected while they’re just trying to have a good time online.
It is possible for your teen to have a safe, positive experience within the social media world, if the proper boundaries are in place.
Make sure your teen’s social media pages are set to private, not public.
Turn off geo-tagging, so they cannot be located from their social media posts.
Do not let your teen “friend” people they do not directly know. Teens should NEVER make plans to meet someone they met on social media.
Report inappropriate content (bullying, hate speech, obscenity) to the social media platform AND be sure to block the poster.
Social Media Safety tips to talk about with your kids:
How often do they check their settings on all social media pages?
Encourage your child to regularly review the app or social networking privacy settings. Many social networks are set to public by default, meaning anyone can see your child’s posts, pics, and videos. We would recommend using a ‘friends-only’ setting. Keep your teen accountable, and ask them to participate in their own safety settings on a weekly basis. They will feel like you are entrusting them with the responsibility to take care of themselves, while giving them a task that keeps them safe.
How many social networks are you currently using?
Just like their bedrooms, it is important that children give their social media presence a spring clean every so often. Remind your child to deactivate any old social media profiles/accounts they may have signed up to. This can help minimize the risk of getting hacked.
Is it possible to copy a photo, video, or snap without the other person knowing?
Explain to your child that anything that appears on a screen can be copied and shared regardless of the privacy features of the services they are using. Nearly all mobile phones can save what is displayed on screen by pressing a couple of buttons. It is just as easy to capture what is displayed by taking a photo of the screen using a camera or camera phone. Make sure they understand that once their content is posted online, there is the risk of that photo or video being seen by others forever, so make sure they think twice.
What type of information/photos are okay to share online?
It’s a good idea to give some guidelines about what to avoid discussing or sharing online. Some children may not understand how quickly content can be shared online, it may be helpful to explain that even by deleting a post/photo it may still be too late, and the content may already have been shared.
Are they accepting friend requests or follows from strangers?
Make sure they understand, that they should only accept friend requests or follows from people that they know. Tell them that they should not be chatting or messaging with any people online that are not personal friends, because these conversations can lead to dangerous encounters that they will wish they had never started. Explain that what might seem innocent at first, can have major repercussions later that can’t be undone.
Try to be as open as possible with your teens about these topics, and include them in monitoring their own safety so they will feel that you are entrusting them with newfound responsibility because they are getting older.
This will make these conversations a lot easier, and ultimately bring you closer to your teen, empowering them to feel like they can talk to you about anything.
Here some links if you would like additional information on social media safety:
The Holiday season encourages us to ‘Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly,’ go ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland,’ and ‘Have a Cup of Cheer,’ and trust me all of that sounds wonderful but I can’t help but also add that we should be smart about it. Who says you can’t have it all right? You can enjoy yourself during the holidays, relax a little, and be on Santa’s good list by being safe, too.
Here are some helpful tips to make ‘Christmas brownie points’ with Santa and keep you and your family safe and on his good list.
When preparing that wonderful, delicious holiday meal there are a few things to keep in mind. Never leave a stove unattended, because unattended cooking equipment is the leading cause of home cooking fires. You should also make sure you wash your hands, utensils, sink and anything else that touches raw meat. Food-borne illnesses are especially prevalent around the holiday season. Use separate cutting boards, plate and utensils for uncooked and cooked meats to avoid cross-contamination. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat is cooked to a safe temperature. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration website provides some valuable holiday food safety tips to follow.
Do not leave a space heater unattended and make sure you turn it off when you’re leaving a room or going to sleep. Do not let pets or children play too close to a space heater, because they will get hurt.
Poisonous Holiday Plants:
Some popular and beautiful holiday plants can also be poisonous or toxic, especially to children and pets. Holly berries can be poisonous. A child can eat 1-2 holly berries without harm, but 20 holly berries is a serious concern. You don’t want to eat a beautiful, decorative poinsettia that is on your holiday dinner plate or placed by your fireplace. Worst case scenario, if you eat a few leaves of a poinsettia you will feel ill or vomit, but they’re not the absolute worst holiday plant to have around. On the other hand, mistletoe contains phoradendron which can cause blurred vision, nausea, and even death. All parts of the mistletoe are poisonous, but the berries are most attractive to kids. If your child eats 1-2 berries of mistletoe, it probably won’t cause a problem, but if your pet eats a few leaves or berries it could be endangered.
Make sure you are watering your Christmas tree daily, because dry trees can cause a very serious fire hazard. You should also make sure that they are on a stable platform at all times.
To remainInspect Electrical Decorations for Damage Before Use:
Check holiday lights for fraying, bare spots, gaps in the insulation or excessive kinking in the wire. Cracked or damaged sockets can also cause a serious shock or start a fire. You don’t want to overload electrical outlets, and you should only plug one high-wattage appliance into each outlet at a time. Connecting more than three strands of lights may not only blow a fuse, but it can also cause a serious fire.
Automated Teller Machine (ATM):
If you absolutely have to stop at the ATM before a night out, try to choose one that is located inside a mall, police station or well-lighted location. You should only withdraw the amount of cash that you will need. You can protect your PIN by shielding the ATM keyboard from anyone who is standing near you. Whatever you do, do not throw your ATM receipt away at the ATM location.
Attending a Party:
If you’re invited to that special holiday party your friends or family have every year, make sure you have something to eat before consuming any alcoholic beverages. Eat things like high protein foods, which will stay in your stomach longer and slow the absorption of alcohol into your system. Only time will truly eliminate alcohol from your body, so know your safe limit and don’t drink and drive. To remain on the good list, be sure you designate a sober driver to give you a ride home, even if it’s on a sleigh.
‘Oh the weather outside is frightening… and those cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially in infants and older adults. To remain on the good list, be sure to dress warmly and wear lots of layers of loose-fitting, tightly woven clothing. Make sure you are checking on the kiddos, your elders and don’t forget about your furry friends as well. Our pets sometimes seem to be the last thing we think about at this time of year, so be sure to make sure they are cozy and warm as well.
The holidays don’t need to take a toll on your health. Be sure not to over-commit to too many parties and activities, and do your best not to over-spend. Balancing your work, home and play is a tough task, but with the support of family and friends it is possible to have a relaxed attitude about the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ and possibly catch some zzzz’s at night as well.
‘Tis the season of ‘love’ and ‘craziness!’ Try to take lots of deep breaths and remember that none of us are perfect, but we can do our best to enjoy this holiday season as safely as possible.
I know I definitely want to be on ‘Santa’s Good List,’ so I will be taking my own advice and using these tips as well.
Here are some additional links to help you do some more research on how to keep your family on Santa’s good list this year:
Yes, it’s that time of year again! The holidays are upon us, and it’s time to head to the attic, your basement, or your storage closet and bring out those boxes of decorations that have been collecting dust for the last eleven months. It doesn’t matter if you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or maybe all three! You know you love it when all of the lights are up, the tree is decorated, and the candles are lit…but while you’re busy decorating the house and admiring the romantic glow of the fireplace, safety might be the last thing on your mind.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were 240 injuries per day related to do-it-yourself holiday decorating activities during November and December of 2017. Let’s make sure you have a safe, healthy and happy holiday season with your friends and family.
Here are some of my top tips to keep in mind as you deck out your home in style this season.
1. Trees Get Thirsty Too!
A dried-out tree will definitely catch fire faster than one that has been properly watered. Be sure to check the water level every day to ensure it has proper hydration.
2. If You Fake It, Make It Safe!
If you decide to ‘go faux’ and buy an artificial tree, make sure it’s labeled “fire-resistant.” Fire-resistant trees are less susceptible to catching fire.
3. Double-Check Your Lights
The CSPC issued new guidelines for seasonal light safety back in 2015. There is a setting for minimum wire size, as well as standards for strain relief and over-current protection.
4. Prevent Electrical Cord Damage
Always avoid using nails or tacks when hanging up those cords, and don’t mount lights in a way that might damage the cord. Use hooks or insulated staples to prevent any type of damage. Cords should never be pinched by furniture, forced into small spaces such as doors or windows, placed under rugs, or located near heat sources.
5. Secure Those ‘Old Flames’
Old flames can die hard…especially when they’re burning on a holiday candle. Never leave a lit candle unattended, because these neglected candles are the cause of one in five home candle fires. Always keep them on a sturdy base to prevent tipping. Battery-operated candles are the perfect substitute, with none of the risk and all of the glow!
6. When You Say “Lights Out,” Mean It!
When leaving the house, make sure to turn all lights off to avoid a short that could start a catastrophic electrical fire. Half of home fire deaths occur between the hours of 11:00pm and 7:00am. When it’s time to call it a night and the kids have finally made it to dreamland, be sure to turn off all of the lights before your head finally hits the pillow.
It’s important to have fun decorating this holiday season and enjoy special quality time with your family and friends. If all goes as planned, hopefully there won’t be any accidents if you follow these simple tips. If by chance you do have a minor mishap, it’s always good to have a first aid kit nearby and our PreparaKits have got you covered with the essentials.
Be smart, have fun and be safe this holiday season.
It can be very difficult at times to pull your child away from that special video game that they love so much, and this is why it’s so important to prepare your children for the ‘online gaming world.’ A recent study from the Pew Research Center indicates that 59 percent of girls and 84 percent of boys ages 13-17 regularly play video games. Many of these games are played online and may involve multiple players.
In addition to safety and privacy concerns, parents must ensure that their child’s gaming activities do not become an addiction. When a gaming addiction develops, children may become detached from reality, resulting in negative consequences regarding their ability to socialize and regulate their emotions. In extreme cases, parents may need to look to a professional for help. However, there are steps you can take to help prevent this.
Setting healthy boundaries for your kids can help to guard against extreme gaming behavior. For example, ensure that children have their homework finished before allowing them to engage in gaming. Also, limit gaming sessions to a set time period of time. When finished playing video games, children should move on to other activities, engaging in active movement and social interaction with others.
Parents should also know the ratings on games, talk to their children about how they feel when they play, and even play these games along with their children to experience them first-hand. I know I do this quite often with my children, so I can see the kind of activity that is taking place within the game.
Here are some helpful talking points to help start the conversation with your child about video games and online gaming:
1. Can you show me your favorite game?
It is a good idea to get to know the games yourself and sit down with your child to let them show you how the game is played. Talk to your child about what they can do in the game they’re playing. What is the overall objective of the game? What do they like most about playing it? Is there anything about the game that they don’t like?
2. Can you play against other kids?
Some games have optional multi-player modes where your child can play with and against others. Make sure you’re clear on whether you are happy for your child to play with others. If you are, ask them who they are playing with. Establish rules around this that you can both agree on. Most games have a rating you can check to see if they are age-appropriate.
3. How much time should you spend playing?
It makes life a lot easier if you bring this subject up early on; it can be tricky to change well-established practices. Talk about why it’s important to have limits. It’s a good opportunity to talk about the importance of being active, being outdoors, and spending time in the company of other children, and striking that suitable balance is key.
Remember, it can be hard to enforce restrictions. It can also be difficult to accurately track the amount of time they are spending playing the game. Some devices allow you to use parental controls to strictly enforce daily or weekly limits. In many cases, the device simply switches off once the allocated time has been exceeded. While this is handy; it can be very frustrating for a child who is just about to reach a landmark in the game after a great deal of effort. We recommend not relying exclusively on parental controls, but use them to support your usual parenting approaches.
4. Can you chat with the other kids you are playing?
Many games allow players to chat with each other. Be sure to agree on rules around this, and ask your child about who they think it is okay to talk to online. Discuss your expectations around the type of language they should not use and how they treat others. Be very clear on the consequences of using bad language, being disrespectful, or not following the other agreed rules. The threat of withdrawing access to the game can be a good deterrent to bad behavior.
Check if the game gives the option of disabling chat and if there is a safe chat mode. Some games allow limited forms of chatting where gamers can communicate with each other by selecting from a menu of phrases.
5. What sort of information is NOT okay to share when gaming?
Explain to them the importance of not giving away any personal information online. In the case of online gaming, it is a good idea not to use real names for game profiles and not to share passwords with friends.
6. What would you do if something inappropriate happens when you are playing a game online?
It’s important that your child is familiar with safety settings, privacy and reporting tools. It is equally important that your child understands they can talk to you if they experience anything inappropriate online. This is also a good opportunity to encourage your child to play fairly and treat other gamers with respect.
Whether we like it or not, the online gaming world is here to stay so it’s best to be proactive and responsible when navigating this with your children. As much as we may think some of the games in this ‘virtual world’ are disturbing or are indoctrinating our children with bad behavior, these games are here to stay. We have to teach our children how to play and use these games responsibly.
After all, I can still remember when Nintendo & Atari were the ‘new gaming devices.’ There was a time when people thought a game called ‘Donkey Kong’ was violent because they hit each other. Nowadays kids are seeing things in these newer games that are a lot more disturbing than that, and in ten years those same people will be saying the same thing about the games of today.
Ultimately, the responsibility lies with us as parents. We have to teach our kids right from wrong, so when they are out in the ‘real world’ they will know the difference.