Every year more than 12,600 people are injured in a fire, and 2,500 people die as a result of fires in their home. Not including the additional estimated $7.3 billion of direct property loss, there is a large price to be paid for an event that can not only be prevented, but can be mitigated via simple actions steps that have been proven to save lives.
First, have a plan in place that all members of the household understand and can do. This does include children. Escape plans not only help you and your family get out safely and quickly, but they also make every second count in a dangerous situation. This plan also need to be practiced twice a year to make sure everyone knows what to do. It should include things like:
- Teaching children not to hide from firefighters.
- Ensuring everyone knows at least two ways out of any room, if possible. This means that if a primary normal entrance, such as a doorway out is blocked, that a secondary route such as a ground-floor window or collapsible ladder for upper story windows, can be used instead.
- Windows with security bars should have quick release devices that allow them to be opened during life-threatening emergency situations such as fire. And yes everyone should know how to use them.
- Fires can spread fast, so it is important that everyone know what they should do during one, and GET OUT quickly. This also prevents injuries related to thermal burns, smoke inhalation and asphyxiation.
Second, Fires can get completely out of control in as little as 30 seconds. Research has shown that the majority of deadly fires occur during times that people are asleep. For this reason is it imperative that a properly installed and maintained smoke alarm is able to alert you and your family 24 hours a day. This should include:
- Installing both ionization AND photoelectric smoke alarms, also known as DUAL SENSOR smoke alarms.
- Test the batteries monthly, and replace at least once a year, or every other time you review/practice your emergency fire plan.
- Never disable a smoke alarm while cooking or smoking, this can cause a deadly mistake and sets up bad habits that can lead to disaster. Either open a window and press the silence button, or wave a towel or other such item to move the area around the smoke alarm until it clears up.
- Install smoke alarms in the home that cater to the needs of everyone in the home. For example, with someone in the home who has a hearing impairment should have a smoke alarm that not only has an audible component, but should also have a visual one as well, such as a strobe light, or vibrating pad attached. You can contact your local fire department for more information on these types of devices.
Third, there are several ways to be prepared or add a little time for decisions to be made. Time is of the essence and as such it is important that all family members know what to do. If in an apartment or multi-family living facility, the building manager or neighbors should be spoken to, to assess the best course of actions to take, especially if there are children, or special needs adults in the home. Most local fire departments can be reached through non-emergency lines and provide information on special needs action steps to be taken. These can include:
- Ensuring everyone in the home knows how to dial the fire department, or 911 for help, if time permits.
- Ensuring that the home has exit ramps, widened doorways, or special devices such as ladders to get out of specific areas within the home.
- Sleep with the door closed so that any fire will not spread as fast, and always check for heat before opening any door, especially when a smoke alarm is sounding.
- Obtain the proper training to use a fire extinguisher when needed. Your local fire department can provide information on receiving such training, and can inspect your residence for fire safety and prevention. You could also consider installing a fire sprinkler system in your home.
Recovering from a fire is mentally and physically draining and can cause undue grief. Being prepared and ensuring that your family is ready can lessen this anxiety, and save lives in the process. More information can be obtained and reviewed at www.ready.gov, or the U.S. Fire Administration’s website at www.usfa.fema.gov .
DR Training Academy is committed to saving lives through proper training and knowledge sharing for all people. As a concierge CPR/First Aid, home and fire safety training partner, the training needs of the individual or company are utilized to fulfill requirements and personal knowledge gaps. Our mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at home, work, and in our communities through reachable hands on training and advocacy for the lay responder as well as the professional responder. For more information visit us at www.drtrainingacademy.com or call us at 817-265-5452.