October: National Fire Prevention Month
Would you know what to do if a fire started in your home? Would your children? Last week schools across the country participated in activities related to National Fire Prevention Week. If your kids are anything like mine, they came home with a wealth of knowledge and even some funny stories. "Mom, did you know Mrs. Brown [a teacher] is always at the fire station because her husband is like A CHIEF or something?!?!?! But, the fireman that I talked to told me that SHE is the REAL boss of all the firemen because she keeps them ALL in line!" *This was coming from my 11 yr. old, but I fought back laughter knowing the Brown family personally.*
You see we, just so happen, live in a wonderful community that takes great pride in teaching our youngsters about fire safety -- poster contests, visits from firemen & firetrucks to the schools, free pencils, erasers, stickers, those *gross* little fake tattoos, fire hats.... you know, the stuff youngsters like! You name it - they do it!
However, they aren't only given "fun" stuff, they are taught valuable information that could save their lives in the event of a fire. The kids listen, then they come home and tell mom & dad all about it. For a week now, at least once of my children tests a smoke alarm DAILY to make sure it works, "So we don't die MOM!" Ahh...
So, with that said: Take the time now to review fire safety facts and tips so your family will be prepared in the event of a fire emergency in your home. Of course, the best way to practice fire safety is to make sure a fire doesn't break out in the first place, but be prepared nonetheless.
Fact: Having a smoke alarm in the house cuts your risk of dying in a fire in half. Almost 60% of all fatal residential fires occur in homes that don’t have smoke alarms, so this may be the single most important thing you can do to keep your family safe from fires.
If your home doesn’t have smoke alarms, now is the time to install them on every level of your home and in each bedroom. If possible, choose one with a 10-year lithium battery. If your smoke alarm uses regular batteries, remember to replace them every year. Test your smoke alarms monthly (not daily – like my sweet little monsters), and be sure your kids are familiar with the sound of the alarm.
Tip: change your batteries when you change your clock back from Daylight Saving Time in the fall.
Because smoke rises, smoke detectors should always be placed on ceilings or high on walls. If you’re having a new home built or remodeling an older home, you may also want to consider adding a home sprinkler system — depending on your policy, this can also give you added savings on your homeowners’ insurance rates.
Teaching Kids the Facts About Fire
Unfortunately, many people will try to hide from a fire, often in a closet, under a bed, or in a corner. But if taught basic fire facts, they’d be better able to protect themselves. If your family isn’t as fortunate as mine to have a education-focused local fire department, teach them yourself that: fires spread quickly, that most fire-related deaths are not from burns but from smoke inhalation, and that dangerous fumes can overcome a person in just a few minutes.
Things Everyone Should Know In The Event of A Fire:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a moist towel or an article of clothing to keep out dangerous fumes while evacuating
- Crawl under the smoke to safety, staying as low to the ground as possible (smoke always rises)
- Touch any door (not the doorknob) to see if it is hot, and if it is, not to open it — find another exit
- Locate the nearest stairway marked “Fire Exit” if you live in an apartment building, or a fire escape if the stairway isn’t accessible — children should know to always avoid elevators during a fire
- Never stop to take personal belongings or pets or to make a phone call (even to 911) while evacuating
- Never go back into a burning building once safely outside
- Stop, drop, and roll to extinguish flames if an article of clothing catches on fire
Children should also always be dressed for bed in flame-retardant sleepwear.
Practice Fire Drills at Home
Kids have fire drills at school and adults have them at work. Why shouldn’t you have them at home, too? Fires are frightening and can cause panic. By practicing different scenarios, your family will be less likely to waste precious time trying to figure out what to do.
Planning escape routes are a necessity, especially if a fire were to occur during the night. Go through each room in your house and think about the possible exits. You should have in your mind two escape routes from each room, in case one is blocked by fire. Inspect the room to make sure that furniture and other objects are not blocking doorways or windows.
Make sure that the windows in every room are easy to open and are not painted over or nailed shut – these may be your only way out in a fire.
If you live in an apartment building, make sure any safety bars on windows are removable in an emergency. Be sure to know the locations of the closest stairwells or fire escapes and where they lead.
If your house is more than one story tall or if you live above the ground floor of an apartment building, an escape ladder is an important safety feature. You should have one escape ladder made of fire-safe material (aluminum, not rope) in each upper-story bedroom that is occupied by a person who is capable of using it.
Like fire extinguishers, escape ladders should be operated by adults only. The ladder must be approved by an independent testing laboratory, its length must be appropriate for your home, and it must support the weight of the heaviest adult in the house.
Discuss and rehearse the escape routes you’ve planned for each room of your home. Designate a meeting place outside your house or apartment building that is a safe distance away (a mailbox, a fence, or even a distinctive-looking tree will do) where everyone can be accounted for after they escape.
Then, every so often, test your plan. Use your finger to set off the smoke detector and let everyone know it’s time for a fire drill. See if everyone can evacuate your home and gather outside within 3 minutes — the time it can take for an entire house to go up in flames.
**Boston Herald photographer Stanley J. Forman snapped this picture in 1975 after a fire broke on out Marlborough Street. The two individuals depicted, Diana Bryant and Tiare Jones, jumped from their building just seconds before a fireman tried to grab them to save their life. Diana Bryant was pronounced dead at the scene, while the little girl survived. The powerful photograph won a Pulitzer Prize and also paved the way for Boston and other states to mandate tougher fire safety codes.**
About Julie Rock-Chatellier
As Claim Manager and adjuster for Provencher & Company, Julie assures the claims process transpires smoothly and timely with both our adjusters and clients throughout the course of managing our claim assignments; overseeing the claims support staff, examiners and trainers in our National Claim Center.
Julie also serves as the claim system administrator and website & social media coordinator for Provencher & Company. Having over 18 years experience in office management, bookkeeping and customer account management, she has served in staff and management assignments in various industries, gaining a working, practical knowledge of marketing & account administration.