What To Do If There’s a Fire.
Fire Safety Checklist
Whether it’s a faulty electrical appliance, a kitchen towel falling on a hot burner unnoticed, a curious child playing with matches, or a pile of oily rags combusting in the garage, a fire is one of the most likely dangers you may have to face. Tornadoes, earthquakes, and nearby wildfires can all put your home, supplies, and family in danger but so too can simple hazards around the house – Hazards that could be prevented ahead of time. We’ll mention some common dangers and how to reduce or eliminate them but first, let’s talk about making sure you’re family knows what to do should a fire occur. More Americans die in house fires every year than in all natural disasters combined so the most important thing we can stress to our family members is how to get out.
How To Get Out:
During one of the upcoming routine family meetings that we hope you’ve begun to discuss emergency preparations and Plans A, B, and C, talk about how to escape out of the house if there is a fire. Every room should have at least two methods of escape. Draw a map and have family members take turns drawing different escape routes. Practice some of those escape routes such as how to open the emergency latch on the wrought iron bars or how to crawl to the door to avoid smoke inhalation. Advise all family members to sleep with their doors shut and let the children experience how to feel their door to see if it’s hot, crawling across the room if there’s smoke, how to open and escape out their bedroom window, and where to meet once they get outside. Stress to the children that getting out is the most important thing and that a fire can spread in seconds. This is not the time to try to rescue some of their toys. Make sure they know too not to go in to get pets. The animals may likely have already gotten out another way and going back in will just put the children in danger. Also, a panicked pet can be an aggressive and dangerous animal. It is much safer for everyone, including the pet, to wait until firefighters get there and let them know the pet may still be inside. Make sure children know that their toys and other belongings can be replaced but they cannot and that once they get out they are absolutely not to go back in!
Practice at least twice a year on how to escape from the house making sure everyone is comfortable with at least two ways of escaping each room. Make sure none of your escape routes include a stairwell as can easily become a deadly vortex of gas, smoke, heat and flame, acting much like a chimney.
The holidays are a busy time of year for firefighters due to the hazards that holiday candles, decorative lights, overworked electrical outlets, drying Christmas trees, and all the other things that go along with this stressful time of year. Running fire drills before this time will help keep everything fresh in the minds of panicked youngsters – Then again just before summer fire season. Keep it interesting and educational by having the fire start in a different area each time. Perhaps make other changes, such as a door being blocked or the fire being in two locations or everyone in rooms other than their bedrooms. This will teach everyone some flexibility while it’s all in fun. During a fire is not the time to find out your escape route is not going to work and have to try to find another way.
Half the home fires occur during the hours of 11pm and 7am, so practice some drills at night. Make sure that by everyone’s bed in an easy to reach location there is a flashlight with working batteries and a whistle to alert other family members or let someone know their location. Encourage children to keep the floor space of their rooms clean so that should they need to get out they’re able to get out safely.
Any deadbolts with lock with a key on the inside should be replaced so a family member doesn’t make their way to the door to find they can’t get out. Until replaced, the key should be left inside the deadbolt or at least hung in a very easily accessible place right next to the door.
What If I Can’t Get Out?:
If you can’t get out, yell for help out an open window or call 911 if you have access to a phone. Do not hide in a closet or under the bed and make sure children know this too. Rescuers will have a much harder time finding someone who is hiding. The sooner the rescuers can find you the sooner you can all get out.
Practice some drills where members are stuck in a room. Find towels or blankets, roll them up, and block the cracks under the doors. Open the window and stand by it to breathe the fresher outside air. Grab some type of cloth and use it to cover your mouth and nose to block smoke and small debris. If there’s a way to dampen the cloth first, even better!
Using a Fire Extinguisher:
A small fire can very quickly get out of control and overcome someone with a fire extinguisher. If you decide to try to fight the fire be ready to quit the endeavor and get out should you start to feel your safety may be in danger.
It is a good idea to practice with a fire extinguisher before you need to use it. Many fire stations offer demonstrations and the chance to use one, give them a call.
Two rules if you’re going to fight a fire.
1. Make sure you stay at least 6 feet from the fire so the force of the extinguisher doesn’t just blast the fire into other areas.
2. Make sure you have an escape route behind you when you pull the trigger.
In regards to using the Fire Extinguisher, remember P.A.S.S. –
P – Pull the pin.
A – Aim the nozzle at the base of the flames.
S – Squeeze the trigger while holding the extinguisher upright.
S – Sweep the nozzle from side to side and outward to extinguish flames.
25% of all fire-related deaths of children are from fires started by children. Make sure your kids know that fire is nothing to play at. It is normal to be curious, but if they show what seems to be an over-interest, seek professional help. Call your local fire station for advice.