Fire Prevention Week 2012

Fire Prevention Week has just passed and I hope everyone took a moment to consider fire safety in their home.  It seems like an easy thing to put off but its importance should not be overlooked.  This year’s theme is “Know Two Ways Out,” meaning be able to escape your room/home through more than one exit path.  It’s a fairly intuitive thing.  I think we all know how to use the front or back door of the house.  Most people will easily detour to the back door if the front is blocked by fire or vice versa.  A bedroom may be a little different since you don’t often climb out the window.  But if you believe that is your only way to escape, it’s certainly a better way out if you’ve had some practice using it.  So practice!

Climbing out a window is not as easy as it seems.  The opening may not be as easy to get your big ol’ adult body through as you might remember as a kid.  But here’s some good news, protecting in place, right in the bedroom, can work very well.  By closing the bedroom door and going to the window to yell for help (or calling for help on your home or cell phone), you may easily survive for up to 15 minutes.  This all depends, of course, on the nature of the fire and where it may be burning, but most often this is the case.

Of course any successful escape begins with a working smoke alarm.  Don’t be confused by the discussions about different sensing technologies.  No studies or information from actual fire cases has yet to determine one smoke alarm being more effective than the other.  Experts across the nation say that having a working smoke alarm is the answer, and it MUST work.  This will give you the early warning you need to get out before fire traps you or forces the use of a secondary exit.

Once out, go to your safe meeting place.  This should be in front of your home right where arriving firefighters will easily find you.  Do not go to a neighbors house, do not go across the street, do not go to the back yard.  Firefighters will not find you in those places so they will not know you escaped the home.  Neighbors are where you send one person to ensure that 911 was called while everyone else remains at the safe meeting place.

When you choose that place, go outside with your family and see it, touch it, and say “this is our safe meeting place.”  Everyone will remember better if you do these things.

That’s all it takes folks.  Pretty simple stuff.  Most people don’t know the devastation fire can cause, not just to your home or property, but to your well being.  Even I didn’t realize it, until about 7 weeks ago.  That’s when my home suffered a devastating fire.  Fortunately, my fire occurred in a shop located about 100 feet from my house.  While I was out of town on vacation, my son, who was home at the time, acted rationally and did not do anything heroic.  The end result was a total loss of a building, but all things that could be recovered….because we were insured.

Take a moment to consider your fire safety, just in case you missed it last week.  You may save a life and that life may be yours.  Think Safe!

Don Porth

Don Porth has been a member of the fire service since 1980. Now working as a consultant and practitioner providing fire and life safety education to his community, the state, and the nation; Don provides consultation and support services for the development of safety learning centers/fire museums. He is also working in a support role for Vision 20/20, the national fire prevention initiative.

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