What Firefighters Want Families to Know

Featured Article, Growth and Development, Health and Safety
Anthony Quintano

Stop, drop and roll. Anyone who participated in fire safety day in elementary school will remember these words. You may have learned the importance of staying low to escape a fire or not to play with matches, both of which are important tips. But there are many fire safety facts that people aren’t aware of, and that’s why we’re sharing these top tips fire safety experts and firefighters want families to know.

Clean your fireplace. With temperatures dropping, fireplaces are heating up. But before you break out the fire logs and strike the match, give your fireplace a good scrubbing! Last year’s build up inside the fireplace can be extremely flammable. Use a creosote log as a self-cleaning option, or call a professional chimney sweep.

You need different types of alarms. Judy Comoletti of the National Fire Protection Association warns that one type of smoke alarm may not be enough to protect your home. “Homes need both ionization and photoelectric type smoke alarms,” says Comoletti, explaining that both of these smoke alarms warn of fires but detect different types. “An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to a flaming fire such as a pan on the stovetop,” she says, “while a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to a smoldering fire, such as wiring in the walls or a cigarette butt on upholstery.” She recommends an alarm that has both detections in one system like the Kidde Dual Ionization and Photoelectric Smoke Alarm available for $34.25.

Smoke alarms don’t last. Despite the warnings and reminders, most people don’t maintain their smoke alarms or change the batteries twice a year. Sandy Facinoli, Chief of Prevention and Information for the U.S. Fire Administration, says, “Most people just have a smoke alarm and think it lasts forever, but it doesn’t. It has a life expectancy of 10 years.” She stresses the importance of getting a new, up-to-date alarm in order to ensure you’re aware if a fire breaks out.

You don’t have as much time as you think. “People have grown up thinking you have 10 to 15 minutes once a smoke alarm goes off,” Facinoli explains. “But really, it’s about three minutes. ” Why the decrease in time? “Because of the nature of furnishings in people’s houses,” she explains, “and house designs that have open ceilings.” This open space provides oxygen to fuel ventilation-controlled fires, called flashovers, and causes a sudden burst of flames.

Don’t grab your stuff. We know it may be tempting to grab photos, important documents or a duffel full of clothing in the midst of a fire, but don’t. This extra baggage will literally weigh you down and prevent you from escaping as quickly as possible. If you are concerned about sentimental items and documents, consider investing in a fire-proof safe or an online account where you can keep extra copies of pictures, bank statements and other important items.

Don’t hide. In the case of a fire, the first reaction children have when they can’t escape is to hide. While this temporarily protects them from danger, it also makes it harder for rescuers to find them. Instead, discuss with your children the importance of staying out in a safe, open place and yelling for help.

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