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Safe Carroll: Practice fire escape plans at home

Safe Kids Carroll County urges parents and caregivers to make a household New Year's resolution to hold fire drills at home until everyone knows how to get out safely in an emergency.

Fire is especially dangerous to young children — ages 5 and under. They don't recognize the danger and don't know how to react. Every year, dozens of children die while trying to escape from fires.

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Plan and practice several different escape routes from each room, and identify a safe place to meet outside. Teach children never to go back into a burning building, and to call the fire department from a neighbor's home or a cellphone outside the home.

•Cooking is the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries.

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•Kitchens are the leading area of origin for home structure fires (42 percent) and civilian home fire injuries (37 percent).

•Smoking is a leading cause of home fire deaths.

•Home structure fires peak around dinner hours between 5 and 8 p.m.

•Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of reported home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

Make sure everyone knows what to do when the smoke alarm goes off, never assume it's not a real fire. Teach kids to:

•Yell "fire" and get out immediately, not stopping to collect any belongings.

•Not open a closed door until they have made sure it is not hot to the touch and there is no smoke coming from behind it.

•Meet at a planned location outside.

•"Stop, drop and roll" if their clothing catches on fire.

According to the National Fire Protection Association in 2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,240,000 fires. These fires resulted in 3,240 civilian fire fatalities. Home fires caused 2,755, or 85 percent, of the civilian fire deaths. Home fires are most often caused by cooking equipment; however, more children die in fires caused by tobacco products or by children playing with matches or lighters.

For more information about fire safety for children and families, call 410-876-4448 or visit http://www.NFPA.org or http://www.safekids.org.

Maggie Rauser is the Safe Kids Coalition Coordinator for the Carroll County Health Department.

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