October is Fire Prevention Awareness month. The history behind generating awareness of fire prevention stems from the Great Chicago Fire, which occurred on Oct. 9, 1871.
While we should be aware of how to prevent fires of all kinds, the leading cause of house fires in the U.S. is cooking fires. They predominantly start when cooking food is left unattended. So when cooking, it's better to minimize any distractions. The rule of thumb is to always "watch what you heat," and it's best to keep pots and pans covered whenever possible.
If a fire does occur, be sure you know what to do.
Be safe during hurricane season
If you are in an area susceptible to hurricane disaster, now is a good time to review your family's evacuation plans and update your "Go Bag." The elderly and others with special needs may require special assistance. Be sure you have planned ahead for them too. High winds and torrential rains can create havoc, so be prepared and follow simple precautions when severe weather hits.
Special Needs Registry
If you, or someone you know, might require additional assistance to leave home during an emergency, consider registering with the Special Needs Registry. The registry is for individuals with physical or mental disabilities who live on their own. The database will be shared with local municipalities to use in their emergency planning efforts.
This hospital listing provides a convenient list of phone numbers and links to local hospitals in order to keep your family safe.
Of course, keeping Westchester safe requires the cooperative efforts of several departments, including Public Safety, Emergency Services, Correction and Probation. Whether it's severe weather or Indian Point, government officials have developed plans and practices to deal with emergencies.
New studies show that drivers overestimate their ability to multitask behind the wheel. Try your hand at the "Gauging Your Distraction" game as featured in a series of articles, Driven to Distraction, in the Technology Section of the New York Times Web site. This game measures how your reaction time is affected by external distractions. Regardless of your results, bottom line is that you should not text when driving.
While texting is a great way to communicate with family and friends, it's dangerous to do while you're driving -- and, it's against the law. Under Westchester’s law, motorists can be fined up to $150 if convicted of texting while driving although no points are assessed to a violator’s license. So play it safe: When you're behind the wheel driving, put your cellphone away.
In the home
It's also important to be prepared for emergencies inside and outside of the home. Learn what you can do to prevent fires and what to do if the power goes out. House fires can be deadly. If your smoke detector sounds or a fire breaks out in your home, take action quickly by calling 9-1-1 or your local fire department. Read our fire prevention tips and share them with your family.
The county has adopted the Code Adam child-finding system in all of its parks and county facilities. The county has also been at the forefront of efforts to fight bullying in general and cyberbullying in particular. Other programs are aimed at stopping drunk-driving and underage drinking.
Sign-up for online alerts
Westchester County can also notify you in case of a major emergency. Sign up to receive emergency notification by e-mail or cell phone.
Remember: If you have a life-threatening emergency, dial 9-1-1