National Fire Prevention Week begins Sunday. The theme of this year's observance is a simple safety message: "Have Two Ways Out."
That focuses on the importance of fire-escape planning and practice, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Make it a family affair and get everyone involved.
A recent NFPA study showed that only one-third of American families had developed and practiced a home fire-escape plan. Such plans should be practiced at least twice a year, the NFPA experts said.
How to get started? Here are some tips:
Draw a map of your home, showing all doors and windows. Discuss with your family potential escape routes.
Determine at least two escape routes from every room. Make sure windows and doors leading outside can be opened easily.
Practice family fire safety drills regularly day and at night. Small children tend to "hide" from fire. Make sure everyone is familiar with planned escape routes and knows how to move quickly out of the home.
Designate an outdoor meeting place a safe distance from your home where your family can gather in case a home fire breaks out.
For homes with bedrooms on second floors or higher, have escape chain ladders. These ladders can be stored under the bed in every room just make sure people know they are there if needed. Practice opening the window with older children and show them how to use escape ladders.
If a door is not safe to exit through during a fire, exit through an open window, using an escape ladder if necessary. Avoid breaking the glass in a window whenever possible; it could cause serious injury.
If fire breaks out in your home, get everybody outside first, then call the fire department.
For more fire-safety tips and advice, go to www.nfpa.org.
In addition, NFPA mascot Sparky the Fire Dog is helping local fire departments connect with their communities and spread fire-safety awareness through the Sparky's Wish List program.
Both the Sacramento and the Sacramento Metropolitan fire departments have signed up with requests for donors for various educational materials used by the firefighters during visits to schools and community groups. To help, go to www.nfpa.org, click on "Sparky's Wish List," then follow the links to find local departments and their needs.
October is the best month to plant perennials in our area. Preparation is key to success.
Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to the planting hole or bed, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring.
Keep the transplants well- watered (but not soggy) for the first month as they become settled. During the cooler (and wetter) months to come, they'll develop strong roots.
Clean up the summer vegetable garden and compost disease-free foliage.
Harvest pumpkins and winter squash.
Plant winter vegetables. From seed, plant beets, chard, collards, leeks, mustard, peas, radicchio, radishes and spinach. Set out transplants for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and leaf lettuce.
Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden including cornflower, nasturtium, poppy, portulaca and sweet pea.
Set out cool-weather bedding plants including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.
Reseed and feed the lawn.