Fire Plans Save Lives
The United States has a serious preventable problem on its hands. Seven Americans die in fires started in the home every day, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. We, as a community, can reduce this number with proper knowledge. It is truly our job, as caregivers and parents, to educate our families and implement change.
For starters, one of the most important things to do is simply to talk with each other. Have conversations discussing and creating an emergency escape plan. These conversations need to include the entire family; every adult and every child needs to be considered when implementing a plan.
Fire safety escape plans are not just important for children but also for our older adults. Our senior citizens are at higher risk than our younger populations.
When implementing your plan, consider these topics: expectations for every member of your family from the oldest to the youngest; identifying two ways out of every room in the house for a majority of evacuation scenarios to avoid a blocked exit; crawling low under smoke to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning; not hiding in our rooms under the bed or in the closet from fire fighters trying to rescue us; checking the bedroom door for heat with the back of the hand to avoid flames and burns, and establishing a meeting spot outside the home that is nonmoving to avoid anyone reentering the home.
A few examples of recommended meeting locations are a neighbor’s front porch, mailbox, large tree or maybe a telephone pole. Every family and location of the home is different and unique; pick a spot that works best for your family.
Once you have the conversation to implement the plan and an emergency evacuation plan is created, it is important to practice, practice and practice again. Repetition brings success in these disastrous situations.
Smoke alarms saves lives. There is no doubt about that. It has a lot to do with carbon monoxide, a by-product of fire and a silent killer. This dangerous gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless. A majority of fire deaths are from carbon monoxide poisoning. A functional smoke alarm installed in the proper locations throughout the home can help avoid fire fatalities by detecting a possible fire before the house is completely involved, giving the family time to escape quickly. Keep in mind that you could be fast asleep when a fire starts. NFPA research says fires between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. make up half of the home fire death rates in the US.
When checking or installing batteries in your new or current smoke alarm, consider these factors:
Smoke alarms are meant for sleeping areas of the home. Install a smoke alarm in and outside every sleeping area and one on every level of your home.
All smoke alarms need to be replaced after 10 years of the manufacture date. The majority of smoke alarms have a sticker to write a date for convenience.
Hardwired alarms that are interconnected are the best smoke alarms to have if possible. When one sounds, they all sound for notification.
Test your smoke alarms once a month.
Fire safety education is fire prevention. Family and friends coming together to educate each other is the way to keep our loved ones safe out of danger. This preventable problem can be reduced with talking, implementing and practicing an emergency evacuation plan and following through with smoke alarm safety.
Statistics are high for home fire deaths, but we can change that by working together. For more information on fire prevention education, contact your local fire department.
Christi Roman Kulwicki is a fire inspector with the North Fort Myers Fire Control and Rescue Service District. Safe Kids Southwest Florida is a nonprofit coalition of agencies and organizations dedicated to eliminating preventable childhood injuries. Visit safekidsswfl.org.