Provident Living: Planning For The Next Fire You Don't Want To Be In
Having no plan for a fire, is like boating without a life jacket.
Some lessons from a Safety Engineer....
My dad was a safety engineer all of his working life. Safety did not cease to interest him just because he retired.
My dad traveled a lot in the course of years spent working for the State of Maine, The National Safety Council, and the Department of The Navy.
I feel confident that he never checked into a hotel without knowing how to access the nearest fire escapes to safely exit the building, if there should be a fire.
Twice each year we change our clocks to adjust for Standard Time and Daylight Savings Time. When we do so, we are encouraged to change the batteries in our smoke detectors so that there is no danger of a fire happening when the detectors cannot work properly. (During the winter months, when we usually button up tight to prevent heat leaking, it is important to have a carbon monoxide detector, too. We will hear again this winter of people dying from carbon monoxide poisonings which an inexpensive detector could have provided protection against happening.)
This winter we will also hear about hotel fires, nursing home fires, house fires, and people who flee, are rescued, and who die (many of the latter dying needlessly if they had only had working detectors and were aware of how to exit a burning building in time.)
Incidentally, after living for 32 years in our fine home, which the original owners had built, we found out that the kitchen stove, and the upstairs Franklin-type stove do not meet the fire code. Some years ago we had simply stopped using them, and lucky for us we had. When the wall areas too near those stoves dry out from the heat of the stoves, they can ignite without warning when they heat to just 135-degrees Fahrenheit. Typically, those stoves heat to 500-degrees Fahrenheit! We plan to sell them to someone who will install them properly elsewhere, and content ourselves with the all-electric home we have.
Ask your local fire department for a check of how your living area does in relation to your local fire codes. It could very well save your life.
If you have bedrooms in your apartment or home which are occupied at night, get a window decal which can let your local fire department quickly know that those rooms are of special interest in case of a nighttime fire. (Ours are reflective and read "PEOPLE LOCATOR" and may be available to you by going to www.masterguard.com .)
Every year we see dramatic videos of people losing hope while smoke and flames have them seemingly trapped. Escape ladders for homes are available and easily stored on the floor of a closet near a bedroom window for use in an emergency, and every home (especially home kitchens, and shops) should have appropriate fire extinguishers meant for fighting the kind of fires most likely to occur in a given area of the home. Most businesses are required to have regularly inspected and appropriate extinguishers available for fire suppression.
Calling 911 for emergency responders in case of fire is standard, and some phone systems and cell phones allow for pre-programming the number for your local police and fire departments to facilitate making such calls when help is needed.
If you routinely store ammunition and other hazardous materials, your fire department will want to know where those are located, for their own safety and to better provide for your safety in an emergency. Be prepared to let the first responders know where such items are located.
As with all possible emergencies such as earthquakes, storms, and floods, the real insurance you can provide for yourself and your loved ones in case of fire is being prepared, having a plan (such as where to meet so heads can be counted and authorities can be told, if anyone is unaccounted for.)
If you use wood or coal in a furnace, fireplace, or stove, be sure your chimneys are cleaned and ready for when they are needed. Our neighbors had a chimney fire last winter which drove them out of the house and into the street while the firemen put out the fire and suggested how they could deal with the damages from the fire and smoke. A clean chimney would have avoided the danger, the trouble, and the sizable expense. (Some chimneys can be inspected for free, so that there is no expense unless they need cleaning. Ask around and check under "Chimney Cleaning" in your business directory, or ask your local fire department.)
Children playing with matches and lighters, smokers and inattentive cooks, call for extra precautions. Anywhere there is a potential source of fire, there is the potential for a big fire.
Enjoy a safe living space, wherever you are, and follow the Boy Scout motto of "Be prepared."
Copyright 2012 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.