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Deadly fires can be prevented

Two fires in less than a week have killed eight people in northern Indiana.

Three days ago two adults and four children, ranging in age from 3-months-old to 42-years-old, lost their lives in a late-night fire that luckily two people escaped from in Cass County near Logansport. Just this past Sunday, a mother and child lost their lives on Lee Street in Huntington.

It’s a stark reminder that precaution is neccessary to protect our family, friends and neighbors.

There was no foul play involved with either fire. Both happened while the occupants were all asleep, and although we don’t know the cause of death for those who lost their lives in Logansport, we know that the unidentified woman and child in Huntington died of smoke inhalation before they even had a chance to escape the blaze.

Fire does not discriminate. All it takes is a spark. It could be from a charger left on unattended all night or an old furnace that is worn and tired.

Here are some tips from the American Red Cross that can help prevent fires or at least prepare your home for the unlikely but possible chance that a fire starts in your home:

◘ Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.

◘ Test smoke alarms every month. If they’re not working, change the batteries.

• Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.

• If a fire occurs in your home, get out, stay out and call for help. Never go back inside for anything or anyone.

• Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.

• Smoking materials are the leading cause of residential fire deaths in the United States. If you smoke, take precautions: Smoke outside; choose fire-safe cigarettes; never smoke in bed, when drowsy or medicated, or if anyone in the home is using oxygen.

• Use deep, sturdy ashtrays and douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before disposal.

• Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.

• Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.

• Never leave a burning candle unattended, even for a minute.

• Keep matches and lighters up high, away from children, preferably in a locked cabinet.

• Use flashlights when the power is out, not candles.

• Make sure your house number is easily readable from the street, even at night.

• Make sure your home heating sources are clean and in working order. Many home fires are started by poorly maintained furnaces or stoves, cracked or rusted furnace parts, or chimneys with creosote buildup.

• Use kerosene heaters only if permitted by law. Refuel kerosene heaters only outdoors and after they have cooled.

• Check electrical wiring in your home.

• Fix or replace frayed extension cords, exposed wires, or loose plugs.

• Make sure wiring is not under rugs, attached by nails, or in high traffic areas.

• Make sure electrical outlets have cover plates and no exposed wiring.

• Avoid overloading outlets or extension cords.

• Purchase only appliances and electrical devices (including space heaters) that bear the label of an independent testing laboratory.

• Store combustible materials in open areas away from heat sources.

• Place rags used to apply flammable household chemicals in metal containers with tight-fitting lids.

• Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. Stay in the home while simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food.

• Keep pets off cooking surfaces and countertops.

• Keep the stove area clean and clear of things that can catch fire, such as pot holders, towels, curtains, bags, and other appliances.

• If you are cooking and a fire starts in a pan, slide a lid over the burning pan and turn off the burner. Leave the lid in place until the pan is completely cool. Moving the pan can cause serious injury or spread the fire. Never pour water on grease fires.

Smoke inhalation can cause its victim to pass out before the fire in known. Make sure you have enough alarms installed becuase they are worth the investment to keep your family and home safe.

We’ve all heard this advise before, but today, every body should go through this checklist and prepare for the unexpected.