Break Point!

Volume 1, Issue 8 View the Archives October, 1998
BreakPoint is Ablaze with Injury Prevention Tips
Working Smoke Detectors Save Lives
Tips for a Spooktacular Halloween
"The Great Escape" National Fire Prevention Week, October 4-10
The Last Word…
Prevention Web Sites of the Month
Next Month in Injury Prevention

BreakPoint is Ablaze with Injury Prevention Tips

Kathy O'Day
Loyola University Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Injury Prevention Program

Autumn is an exciting time of year. The days are turning cooler and the trees are turning colors from green to bright yellow, red and orange. Fall is the time when we begin to ready ourselves for the winter months ahead; our summer wardrobe is being replaced by long pants and sweaters. Why not ready ourselves for autumn safety? October has often been thought of as the month for witches and goblins, but it is a good time to keep safety in mind. Fire Safety and Halloween safety will be the topics focused on in this months Breakpoint.

Break Point is produced by Loyola University, Burn and Shock Trauma Institute Injury Prevention Program. Please call us at (708) 327-2455 with any comments or questions.

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Working Smoke Detectors Save Lives

Most states require the use of smoke detectors in the home. National Fire Protection Association, (NFPA) estimates that 93% of homes have at least one smoke detector. Why is it that so much attention directed at urging people to install and maintain their smoke detectors? The answer is that there are more homes with poorly maintained or non-working smoke detectors than those without smoke detectors at all.

Just having a smoke detector in your home without maintaining its function gives the homeowner a false sense of security. Working smoke detectors alert people of a fire and give them time to escape in a situation where seconds can mean the difference between life and death. The majority of fire deaths occur at night when people are asleep, so the special benefits of the device in this instance are lost if it is not functional. It is imperative that you have more than one smoke detector in the house. Homes should have a working smoke detector on each level of the house. This includes the basement and outside each bedroom. Maintaining your smoke detector is quick and easy. Follow these simple tips to keep your smoke detector in good shape:

  • Testing the detector- Test the smoke detector once a month to make sure they are operational. Test each detector by pushing the test button and listening for the alarm.
  • Replace the batteries- if your smoke detector is battery operated; replace the batteries once a year. Remember, when you change your clock, change the batteries in your smoke detector.
  • If the detector begins to make a chirping sound, this indicates that the battery power is low and the batteries need to be changed immediately.
  • Never borrow the batteries of the smoke detector for other uses and instruct everyone in the household never to disable the alarm.
  • Cleaning the detector- Smoke detectors need to be cleaned regularly just as you keep your home clean. If your smoke detector is near the kitchen cooking grease may accumulate and the cover will need to be kept clean so the sensor light is not blocked. If the detector cover gets dusty, vacuum the cover.

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Tips for a Spooktacular Halloween

Halloween has become a big holiday in recent years. Adults as well as children love to don costumes and become someone or something else for just one night. Whether your child is going trick-or-treating, or you have an adult party to attend, keeping safety in mind will help keep this Halloween fun. With all the excitement of Halloween, it is important to remind your trick-or-treaters to follow some of the basic safety rules.

  • Children should carry a flashlight when they go out after dark.
  • Stay on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the street and face traffic.
  • Stay with houses that you know. Go to houses that are well lit.
  • Do not enter any house in which you are not familiar with the owner.
  • Make sure costumes fit. The costume does not drag on the ground and that their shoes fit well to avoid tripping
  • Children should avoid wearing masks, which can limit eyesight and restrict breathing.
  • Wear clothing with reflective markings or tape.
  • Stay on the designated trick-or-treat route established by your parents.
  • Bring all candy home to be inspected by a parent. Do not eat any candy that does not have a wrapper.
  • An adult should accompany Young children of any age when trick-or-treating.
  • Parents should buy costumes made of flame resistant material.

There are many things homeowners can do to keep Halloween safe for children.

  • Make sure your yard is clear of ladders, hoses, dog leashes and flower pots that children can trip on.
  • Keep candle powered jack o'lanterns away from where children will be walking or standing. It is preferable to use battery-powered candles.
  • Make sure paper or cloth yard decorations won't be blown into a flaming candle.
  • Keep candle powered pumpkins away from drapes to protect against fires.
  • Keep walk areas clear of wet leaves.

If attending an adult Halloween party:

  • Do not drink and drive. Appoint a designated driver to take you to and bring you home safely from your party.
  • Drive slowly all evening and keep an eye out for trick-or-treaters.
  • As always, whether driving or not, use and dispense alcohol responsibly and sensibly at parties and social gatherings. It is your best bet for avoiding an injury.

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"The Great Escape" National Fire Prevention Week, October 4-10

Ever since Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicked over the lamp in the barn that set off the great Chicago fire, much attention has been paid to fire prevention. Although most of the fires that happen aren't as devastating as that one, to the homeowner that has lost their home and possibly a loved one, the loss can be just as great. There are thousands of residential home fires each year and with that, thousands of lives are lost. If a fire breaks out in your home are you prepared? Many people think such an event will happen to someone else not them. In a fire, seconds count! The fire and smoke cause great confusion and panic. Even the most prepared home is at risk. You can decrease the risk of serious damage to your home if you follow some simple fire safety rules and have a good escape plan in case a fire breaks out in your home:

  1. Have a working fire detector in each level of your home and outside each sleeping area.
  2. Keep the fire detectors in working order.
  3. Draw a map of your home and have two exit routes for each room.
  4. Have a prearranged safe meeting place everyone should meet in case of a fire. Teach young children the escape route and stress the need to be at the safe meeting place so in the event of a fire they are not likely to hide in a closet or under the bed.
  5. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.
  6. Have a working fire extinguisher preferably in the kitchen to keep a small fire contained.

In the event of a fire:

  1. Do not panic! When you stay calm you are more likely to remember the designated escape route.
  2. If you are in a room with the door closed, be sure to feel the door. If the door is hot do not open! If the door is cool use caution when opening the door.
  3. If you must escape through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees and keep your head about 12 inches above the floor, where the air is cleaner and easier to breathe.
  4. Never return inside a burning house for pets or valuables.
  5. When you arrive at the safe meeting place do a head count to make sure everyone is out of the house. If someone has not returned inform the firefighters immediately!
  6. In the event your clothes catch on fire-
    Stop! Do not run.
    Drop on the ground gently and cover your face with your hands
    Roll on the ground until the flame is smothered.
  7. Once you escape from the house, go to a neighbor's house to call 911.
  8. Make sure the children in the house know their phone number and address in case they need to call 911 by themselves.

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The Last Word…

With the air beginning to chill, people will begin to use their furnaces. Have your furnace serviced and checked before turning it on. Remember, if you smell gas, leave the house and call for help at a neighbor's house. Have your fireplace chimney checked once a year, to avoid a chimney fire.

This is the time of the year when the smell of burning leaves is in the air. It seems to be a natural smell of the country. Always burn leaves, grasses or hedge clippings in a controlled area, preferably in a metal barrel or on barren ground. Do not use any fluids to start the flame. Keep children away from the area when burning leaves. Be familiar with your state and local laws regarding the burning of leaves. Such activity could be prohibited in your area. Keep a garden hose accessible. Do not drink and burn leaves or do yard work.

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Prevention Web Sites of the Month

American Association of Poison Control Centers
American Burn Association
Burn Prevention Foundation
Children's Safety Network
Illinois Emergency Medical Services for Children
Fire and Safety Resource Directory
Fire Safety Tutorial
MADD National Office
United States Fire Administration

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Coming Next Month in Injury Prevention

  • Child Safety and Protection Month
  • Next Month dedicated to domestic violence

The information on the Loyola University Health System (LUHS) Web site is for educational purposes only. It is presented in summary form in order to impart general information relating to certain diseases, ailments, physical conditions and their treatments. The information provided through the LUHS Web site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease, nor is it a substitute for professional care. Should you have any health-care related questions or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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