October is Fire Prevention Month, and there's no question that everything you do now can save lives in a fire emergency. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, across the United States, there were more than 369,500 fires in homes in 2010. 2,640 people died and another 13,350 were injured in those fires, which causes $6.9 billion dollars in damage. Let's talk about a few simple things you need to do to ensure you don't become one of those statistics!

The very first thing you need to do is to make sure you have smoke detectors installed in every hallways and bedroom of your home. They need to have the Underwriters Laboratories seal to ensure quality. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Just as important is to test those smoke detectors every week to make sure the batteries are still good and that the device is operating normally.

In the case of a fire, the most important thing is to get out as fast as you can. And then stay out! The danger is not just the actual flames, but the atmosphere the fire creates, as it consumes oxygen and gives off deadly gases such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.

To that end, you'll want to establish a plan ahead of the time you might need it. You'll need to establish this plan with everyone who lives in your home. Make sure you have at least two ways out, and know them by heart. Make sure someone is assigned to call 911 for help, and if someone is assigned to help those who might need assistance. And set up a meeting place outside so you can be sure everyone is safe.

Keep this fact in mind, that the leading cause of home fires and injuries since 1990 is cooking! And most of those fires happen when kitchen ranges and ovens are left unattended. The second leading cause of house fires is heating equipment, which must be cleaned properly and checked annually. The other leading causes of fires are smoking materials, electrical appliances and candles.

For much more, make sure to check out the Fire Prevention information on the National Fire Protection Association Website. Now get to work checking those smoke detectors!

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photo courtesy musubk/flickr.com