by Sarah M. Travis
Fall and winter invariably remind us of spiced cider, pumpkin pies, holidays, and time with family and friends. Amid all of the fun and preparation, we must remember to take time out for safety.
While putting away sunscreen and bug spray, perhaps we can remember a few of the following ways to protect our homes and loved ones:
• Due to the increased incidence of house fires, it’s important to check on batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
• Make sure to keep extra, unexpired batteries for alarms and flashlights safely stored in the house.
• Teach children to be aware of at least two exits from every room in the house, and practice using these routes.
• Remind children how to “Look, Listen, and Feel” at doors, and “Stop, Drop and Roll” in the event that clothing catches fire.
• Families should decide on a safe meeting place outside so that everyone can be accounted for after evacuating the home.
• Teach younger children how to dial 9-1-1 from cell phones; make sure your child either knows how to unlock a cellular phone from sleep mode, or knows how to use the “Emergency Dialer” setting from the home screen. In addition, make sure young children know how to press “Send” after dialing 9-1-1 from a cellular phone.
• If your home carries a fire extinguisher, check for any rust or damage, and ensure that the pressure gauge is at an acceptable level for your particular model.
• Fall safety includes notifying neighbors with pets or small children any time you put fertilizers, weed killers, or other chemicals in your yard.
• Abide by city and county laws when burning leaves, and ensure that no dangerous foliage (such as poison ivy, oak, or sumac) sneak their way into your burn pile.
• Have regular furnace maintenance performed in preparation for winter, and have any leaks in your roof repaired.
• Flashlights, blankets, fresh water, and nonperishable food items may be beneficial in the event of a power outage.
• It’s always a good idea to unplug any appliance with a heat source when not in use (coffee makers, toasters or clothing irons).
• When pulling out winter wardrobes from storage, shake out or wash clothing to prevent brown recluse spider bites.
• Dig out the snow shovel and rock salt from the back of the garage for ready availability.
• Last, check on neighbors who live alone or who are elderly during inclement weather.
Let’s make sure we all have a safe and enjoyable fall and winter season.
Sarah M. Travis is a registered nurse who lives in the Turner neighborhood of Kansas City, Kan. She also is a full-time student at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, where she plans to graduate with her bachelor’s degree in May.