In my earlier post about mattress toxins, I discussed the over use of toxic fire retardants on common every day furniture and on children’s clothing. Some critics say it is better to have these toxins than to have a child burn in a fire, which is why these chemicals started being used in the first place. Another thing to note is once this treated furniture DOES catch on fire it burns hot and fast, making a bad situation worse within seconds. Instead, I would like to propose some safer sleeping solutions for babies and children. I believe by using basic fire safety, and by educating the whole family about what to do in case of fire, we can avoid the use of toxic, carcinogenic fire retardants and have a safe, healthy family.
Basic Household Fire Safety
- Have a smoke detector on every floor of your home.
- Check your smoke alarm batteries every six months to be sure they are working.
- Never overload circuits or extension cords (Christmas lights anyone?).
- Do not place cords under rugs, over nails, or in high traffic areas where they might get tripped over, vacuumed, eaten by dogs or toddlers, etc.
- Immediately shut off and unplug anything that sparks, sputters, or makes a funny smell. Have them professionally repaired or replaced.
- Unplug appliances when not in use.
- Have a fire extinguisher in any room with an open flame including the kitchen and by the fire place. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have one on every floor. Be sure everyone in the home knows how to use it safely.
- Use safety plugs in all un-used outlets, especially when there are young children in the house.
- Keep space heaters or other portable heating devices 3 feet away from everything.
- Do not have a fire anywhere but in the fire place. Use a screen to protect the home from sparks.
- Have your fire place cleaned annually. Build up in the fire place can cause an intense, easily spreading fire.
- Plan an escape route from every room in your house, with every member of your household.
- If you have multiple floors be sure every upstairs room is equipped with a portable fire escape ladder (affiliate link). If you have a baby, dog or toddler in the home having a Baby Rescue Emergency Rapid Evacuation Device (affiliate link) that you can safely put them into and lower down to others.
- Teach everyone to stay low to the ground during a fire, and not to open doors when the door knob is hot.
- Teach your children fire is a tool to be respected, not a toy. Do not let your kids play with matches, lighters, or any other fire. Teach them to be responsible around fire.
- Teach children to STOP, DROP, and ROLL if their clothing catches on fire.
- This is a great manual by FEMA about household fire safety. It is worth reading.
Sleep Safety for Babies
- Babies from birth to age 1 should share a room with their parents. This can include the baby sleeping in a co-sleeper next to mom, in a crib in the same room, or bed sharing. Not only does this reduce the risk of SIDS, it also helps the parent stay in tune with the baby’s needs. It is wonderful to have baby in the same room within arm’s reach for breastfeeding mothers, making waking up at 3am to feed baby much less inconvenient. On a fire safety note, if you need to leave the home quickly baby will be right next to you and you can quickly grab then and go.
- If you bed share with baby follow these simple safety tips from Dr. Sears.
- Have a non-toxic crib mattress that does not off gas harmful chemicals. Studies in New Zeland have suggested that mattress off gassing may contribute to SIDS. If you do not have a non-toxic mattress, you can wrap the mattress with something like this (affiliate link) that prevents the leeching of chemicals into the air.
- Place baby on the back to sleep.
- Use organic cotton fitted sheets and bedding.
- Do not place lose pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals in the bed with baby.
Sleep Safety for Children
- Be sure your children know basic fire safety as listed above.
- Children who are scared commonly hide. Practice fire drills every 6 months so the child will know what to do if there is a fire in the home. Show them how to check door handles to see if they are hot, how to get out of the home several different ways, and how to stop, drop, and roll.
- Get a mattress that is naturally fire resistant without all the nasty toxic fire retardants. Wool mattresses are naturally fire resistant, some have a tightly woven rayon fabric that makes the mattress more fire resistant like my Invigo mattresses. Ask your non toxic mattress manufacturer what they use.
With these basic safety considerations, your family will be much prepared in the unlikely event of a fire, and protected against the very likely health effects of the fire retardants in most furniture and childrens sleep wear.
What basic steps for fire safety does your family practice?
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