Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fire Safety

"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." - George Washington

I'm reminded by the Red Cross that this is Fire Safety Week. I recommend printing out this Red Cross page and having each family member read it. http://www.redcross.org/www-files/Documents/pdf/Preparedness/checklists/FireSafety.pdf

The Red Cross knows about fires. When my wife & I were active disaster responders, every event but one that we assisted was a fire (the one exception was a regional flood). Here are some highlights from the fact sheet.

1. Sixty-five percent of home fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms.
2. Smoke alarms are worse than useless if the battery is dead. Check the alarm monthly and change batteries twice a year.
3. The most common causes of home fires are: kitchen fires starting in the oven/stove, space heaters igniting something nearby, falling asleep while smoking a cigarette, children playing with matches.

I was surprised by the Red Cross statement on fire extinguishers, "Use a portable fire extinguisher ONLY if you have been trained by the fire department and ..." This seems overly restrictive to me but it does drive home a few points:
a. you MUST practice with fire extinguisher. They run out quickly and many people will use them incorrectly (for example spraying the flames when they need to spray the base of the fire instead).
b. a typical home extinguisher is limited to fires up to the size of a basketball or small trash can. It will not extinguish a burning couch or bed or Christmas tree that is completely aflame.
c. Safety first - before you play the hero with the extinguisher and die of smoke inhalation, get the family out first and make sure 9-1-1 is called.

Bottom Line

Here are some earlier posts I've written on fires...

how-to-use-fire-extinguisher
house-fires

kitchen-fires

value-of-drills

october-fire-safety-month

fire!  (the speed and intensity of fires)

oh-christmas-tree-oh-christmas-tree

christmas-fires

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