Let’s wonder today about one of the greatest causes of loss of property and life in homes, fire. And let’s discuss what the homemakers of America can do toward reducing this hazard, what they can do by training both themselves and their children. Fire is no fun when it strikes our home, and even the best prepared and best fitted and protected houses can be struck.
As I make this statement, it takes me back to an instance which happened at another White House conference and happened in the Blue Room of the White House. It was a conference on child welfare, and many delegates were gathered. Mrs. Roosevelt was addressing the conference. Suddenly the curtains of the White House went up in a blaze. Mrs. Roosevelt said, “The White House is well protected and well equipped for fires. I want all of your individual attention. I want the conference to continue, and if for some reason the fire cannot be put under control, there are exits, and we shall all leave in an orderly fashion.” No one turned their eyes toward the blazing fire, and within a few minutes the fire was extinguished.
What can we homemakers do toward keeping our homes free from fire hazards? First, we must teach our families that an ounce of fire prevention is much better than the fanciest fire engine. Second, we must look for booby traps in our homes, especially in our basements. Do we check and clean our heating systems once a year? Are we sure that kindling, left-over paint, and papers are a safe distance from our furnaces?
Are our fuses a proper size? Does the house have good wiring, and is it well strung, not under rugs and over hooks and in exposed places where wear may make it dangerous? How are our chimney flues and our cooking stoves? Are they well insulated? Have we left around carelessly any old paint or furniture polishing cloths?
I was very much impressed by a story I read in the paper of a 23 year old woman who died in a hospital in Chicago recently from burns suffered when a fire in a broom closet ignited her dress when she opened the door of the closet. The evidence indicated that the outbreak occurred in some furniture cloths, which ignited spontaneously.
Do we always remember to put away our electric irons? Over 90 percent of the electrical fires every year are due to misuse of our electrical equipment, such as irons. Do we have good screens in front of our fire places?
Third, we must avoid doing things that we think will not matter. Too many of us think we can handle the situation and that “this one time will not matter.” Therefore, too many people are trying to do their own wiring. Too many people are dry-cleaning at home with combustible liquids that can even be touched off, as you all know, by static spark caused by rubbing materials together. Too many of us are forcing our furnaces to get more heat. Some people put pennies in fuses; some empty hot ashes into wooden boxes; and too many housewives empty the contents of their vacuum cleaner bags into incinerators or stoves, not realizing the power of dust and that even flour dust under the right condition could blow a car up as high as seven stories.
There are those who empty full ash trays after a party into wastebaskets without checking to see if all cigarette butts are out, and there are many who do not realize that the only safe place for gasoline in inside a car. Too many leave strike-anywhere matches around where children, and