by Craig Humphreys, assistant chief/fire marshal, Logan Fire Department
One of the obstacles in fire safety is overcoming the psychological attitude that “it won’t or can’t happen to me.” After recently responding to my brother’s home fully involved in fire, it is a vivid reminder that it CAN happen to anyone. In only a matter of minutes, a small house fire can rage out of control. Heat temperatures from a building fire can reach up to 1,500 degreesFahrenheit at the ceiling level. The flames emit smoke and carbon monoxide gas, which is odorless, colorless and tasteless and can cause immediate unconsciousness, followed by death. Staying calm and following a family fire safety plan is the best way to stay safe and keep children from panicking and trying to hide.
Creating yourfamily’s fire safety plan should be a family affair where each member of the family can contribute ideas and ask questions. This way, children feel a sense of control. Your family’s fire safety planning should include education on fire safety equipment in your home, including smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Your fire safety plan should include, if possible, two ways out of every room, a meeting place and the local emergency contact number or 911.
As you plan, draw a floor plan of your home that shows all possible exits from each room. Draw a main escape route and an alternate escape route from each room, with increased emphasis on children’s bedrooms. Be sure there is no confusion and that children understand how to exit the house from any room.
Conduct a fire drill at least once every six months. Sound an alarm and treat the situation as if it were a real fire. Make sure everyone knows how to escape the home, but don’t rush. Once everyone is outside, discuss the drill and any problems. Vary starting points from different areas in the home.
Decide on a place to meet once everyone has exited the home. Choose a place a safe distance away from your home, where all family members will be visible to each other and arriving fire fighters (this predetermined place could be at a close neighbor’s house). Ensure that all family members know the emergency number or 911 and know to call for help immediately.
Remind your children that it is NEVER okay to re-enter a burning or smoldering building, even if that means losing a prized possession or even a pet.
Once you have established a Fire Escape Plan, practice it routinely. It could save you and your children’s lives!
Fire Safety Tips
- Complete a home fire safety checklist and identify fire risks in your home.
- Place smoke alarms in each bedroom and on every floor, test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
- Make sure that everyone in the home can hear the smoke alarm from their bedrooms.
- Make a family fire escape plan and practice it.
- Make sure that everyone in the house understands the family fire escape plan.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in your home and ensure everyone knows how to use it.
- Never leave food unattended on the stove, keep all matches/lighters out of the reach of children and don’t place portable heaters near flammable materials.