Yesterday I had the State Fire Marshal visit my area of the school. Although I do many things right when it comes to safety, I had a few things I needed to improve on. At first it felt annoying and a bit nit-picky. Then, I realized she was just concerned with safety. I needed to do the adult thing and join her in her quest for fire safety. It got me thinking… do these adults-in-training have any idea when it comes to fire safety?
Do they know how to handle a grease fire?
Do they know fire safety in their home?
Do they know not to plug in too many things into a wimpy extension cord?
Do they know how to use a fire extinguisher?
Based on how they act during a fire drill, they have no clue!
I would bet that most of them could tell you “stop, drop, and roll.” However, I am not convinced that they know when to “stop, drop, and roll.” “Stop, drop and roll” is used when your clothing is on fire. If clothes catch on fire – Stop where you are – Drop to the ground and cover your eyes and mouth – roll over and over, back and forth until the flames go out. Then, stand up and GET HELP!
But I hear so many of them brag about how they play with matches and such. Dude! STOP!
So… here are some of the fire safety basics every real adult needs to know and practice when it comes to fire safety in the home.
- Fire is NOT something to play with! Fire is a tool not a toy!
- Remember… Fire is FAST! In less than 30 seconds a small flame can turn into a major fire. It only takes a minute to make smoke so thick and black that it can choke you as it fills your house. When I was a kid, my sister was playing with matches and accidentally lit a tree on fire. My dad, a fire captain, had to come and put the fire out. I don’t remember a bunch about that experience, but I do remember being surprised at how fast it went up the tree!
- Fire is HOT! The flames aren’t the worst part. More things in fire are threatening, even deadly. Room temperatures in a fire can quickly get to 100 degrees at the floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling super hot air is bad for your lungs! It can even melt your clothes to your skin. Boy! The stories my dad could tell you! He will sometimes tease that he has smoked too many houses in his time. I realize now that he isn’t kidding. He has run into burning buildings to save people and he has fallen through roofs as he attempted to cross them in the line of duty. I think he knows what he is talking about.
- Fire is dark! My dad tells stories of not being able to see through thick, black, choking smoke. Really. You can’t see.
- Fire is DEADLY! Smoke and toxic gasses kill more people than the actual flames do. Really… fire is not something you want to mess with!
- Prepare yourself and your family for a possible fire. Make an escape plan and practice it. Your school is on to something here. An escape plan and practicing said plan, really does save lives. The escape plan needs to include two ways to get out of the room. Know how to get out through the window. Practice feeling your way through the house on the floor. Practice feeling closed doors with the back of your hand. This is helpful if the door is hot. You won’t burn your hand and you will still be able to crawl out. If the door is hot or you see smoke seeping around the door, go out the second way you planned. Be sure all of the people in your home know not to hide from fire fighters… even small children. Make sure everyone in the house understands and can use a family emergency communication plan.
- Make sure you have WORKING fire alarms. Don’t turn them off after burning toast in the morning. You want that blaring alarm. It will save your life! Test the batteries regularly! Change to new fire alarms every 5-10 years. You want one the works! I promise!
- Sleep with your door closed.
- Keep things that catch on fire at least 3 feet away from anything that gets hot, like heaters.
- Don’t smoke, and if you must smoke, don’t smoke in bed, when drowsy or around people who need oxygen tanks. Duh!
- Don’t play with matches, lighter fluid or barbecues. Remember, tools NOT toys!
- Turn off space heaters when you sleep and when you leave the house.
- NEVER leave candles unattended!
- Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1 and knows the address to direct people to the fire location.
- Fire IS PREVENTABLE!!! Stay in the kitchen when cooking, especially frying, grilling or broiling food. Turn off the stove and oven when you leave the house. Wear clothing that doesn’t dangle and drag as your arms go across the stove. Keep barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from the siding and deck railing (I know this from experience since I’ve singed my desk benches while burning a blanching pot while canning. oops). Replace frayed, worn out, old or damaged appliance cords. Don’t run cords under rugs and don’t sleep with cords, like phone chargers in your bed! They can short out and poof! There’s a fire! Only use 3-prong plugs in 3-prong outlets – and don’t cut off a ground just so you can use a 2-prong outlet. Be careful around wood stoves and chimneys. I grew up with these. We called them “central heating.” They are not something to be messed with. Hot coals can roll out. Sparks can fly out. And they are HOT! I have the scars to prove it. So do my siblings!
- Never use your stove or oven to heat your house. If you get cold, put on a sweater!
- NEVER let your Christmas tree get dry and brittle… and if it does… GET IT OUT OF YOUR HOUSE! It is not something to be messed with. Oh the number of people who have been killed and/or hurt over the Christmas season because they let a Christmas tree get too dry and near some kind fire starter.
- In the case of a grease fire, NEVER try to move the pan. NEVER use a glass lid to cover a fire on the stove. The heat could shatter the lid. NEVER use water. Water on grease fires will go below the flame. The oil will keep burning and the water will turning to burning hot steam. Besides, it splashes the oil out and spreads the fire. NEVER use flour, use baking soda. Flour burns! It can also be explosive. Baking soda works. You can also get a fire extinguisher for your home. Really. Not a bad idea.
- Other things to consider would include making digital copies of valuable documents such as birth records, driver’s licenses, passwords and even family pictures. Have copies of insurance information, including an inventory list of your belongings, so that your insurance knows how to help assess the damage. Be sure to know how to contact someone like The Red Cross. They can help you with temporary housing, food, and even medicines. NEVER enter the house again until the fire department says it is safe.
So there it is… all the things my dad taught me about fire.
A real adult knows how to respect fire.
A real adult knows how to prevent fires.
A real adult knows how to be safe with fire.
A real adult knows what to do in the event there is an emergency in their home with accidental fire.
Be safe out there!