The HomeSafe campaign aims to combat the risks a child might face when home alone. The vast majority of child injuries occur in the evening hours when children are most likely out of school or unsupervised. 90% of these, however, can be prevented1.

For example, it is important to teach your child about fire safety before leaving them unattended. Fires can be caused by a number of different sources such as electricity, gas, candles, matches, and cooking equipment: all of which are important to consider when leaving your child at home.

Cooking Safety is Fire Safety

Most children learn the phrase “do not to play with matches” at a young age. They do not, however, learn some of the most important safety concerns regarding cooking appliances, which can also start fires.

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  1. Have an “off-limits” talk with your child about which appliances are safer to use.
  2. Have a meal prepared for your child in advance if you know he or she will be left unattended. Surprisingly, cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fire injuries sending 2,000 children to the hospital for microwave related burns alone3.
  3. Have your child avoid using a gas powered stove. Children breathe up to twice as much air as adults, making them much more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning2.
  4. Use a monitored smoke detector to deter smoke or carbon monoxide poisoning. A monitored detector can spare you and your family precious minutes while help is being dispatched.

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  1. Check and replace the batteries of your detectors.
  2. Have a smoke detector on every floor of the dwelling.
  3. Test your smoke detectors once a month.
  4. If a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector goes off, have a talk with your child about where he or she can go for safety, such as a trusted neighbor or a relative’s house.

Fire Safety: Can you Candle it?

Extinguish any open flames before leaving your child at home alone – this includes candles. Unsupervised children are involved in 20% of home candle fires4. Again, children should never be allowed to use matches or lighters. For emergency power outages, have a flashlight in a designated place for your child to use instead of a candle. Also, have an emergency escape plan with designated exits in case of a fire evacuation. It is important to consider these scenarios for your child to have a HomeSafe experience!

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1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Action Plan, “Protect the Ones You Love: Child Injuries Are Preventable,” http://www.cdc.gov/safechild/NAP/background.html

2. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=doc_11880.pdf

3. Consumer reports, “Microwave ovens,” February 2009, p.43 and Ahrens M. Home structure fires. Quincy (MA): National Fire Protection Association; 2012 and  American Red Cross,* U.S. Fire Administration, and the National Fire Protection Association

4. The American Red Cross, http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4340090_FireCandleFactSheet.pdf