This week is Fire Prevention Week and Fall Creek Fire Department’s Chief, Jody Vestal, brought forth tips and information about fire safety and prevention. Local Fire Departments are also looking for volunteers. Volunteers can apply in person or online for most fire departments. The only qualifications to become a volunteer is the desire to help others in your community. In addition to operational firefighters, fire departments have a need for office personnel and event planners.
1. What tips do you have for people to avoid fires in their home?
Test Smoke Detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. According to NFPA, from 2012-2016 48% of fires were cooking related. When cooking, stay in the kitchen and check the food during the cooking time. Keep anything that is flammable or combustible away from the stovetop. When using a space heater, keep kids and pets away, never leave unattended, and always place on a level, non-flammable surface. Only purchase a space heater model that shuts off automatically if it falls over. Know how to use a fire extinguisher and always remember PASS; Pull the pin, Aim low at the base of the fire, Squeeze the handle slowly, and Sweep the nozzle side to side.
2. How many smoke detectors should be in a home?
Outside of each bedroom and also each level including the basement. Carbon monoxide detectors should also be used in homes that use natural gas, propane, or wood. Reminder, if your detector is hard wired, they should have a battery backup in case of power loss so you will be protected. Always remember to check these batteries and replace twice a year. Contact your local fire department if your detectors are over 10 years old, or if your carbon monoxide detectors are over five years, normally they can help with the replacement at no cost.
3. For people with kids, how should they approach the subject of fire safety?
Make a Fire Escape Plan (include meeting place) on what to do in the case of a fire. According to the NFPA, always plan two ways out of every room, make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily, designate a meeting place. Do an occasional test of smoke detectors without the kids being aware and see how they react and to make sure they know what to do and know the seriousness of the situation. In the kitchen, make sure the handles of pots and pans are not facing out. It is recommended to have a fire extinguisher inside the home. Always make sure that kids who are visiting, (for example at a sleepover, make sure they are aware of the escape plan and meeting place.) Teach kids to never play with matches and lighters. Also, remind them to keep away from open flames.
4. Can you explain how people can put together a fire safety plan for their family? (Routes to take out of their home, where to meet, etc.)
First, talk it over with your family. Write it down and keep it visible so the kids can remember the plan. Practice the plan. A good meeting place is preferably the roadside of the residence, could also be a mailbox, or neighbor’s residence. The plan should consist of two ways out. If windows are at a high level, you can purchase foldable window ladders to allow easier access to exit the structure.
5. Anything else people should know about fire prevention?
Emergencies can’t always be prevented, with proper planning, practicing your plan, the risk of loss can be minimized if you are knowledgeable about the planned process. Make sure your address is visible from the road with clear, reflective numbers. Fall Creek Fire Department currently sells the reflective address signs for $15. Have chimneys cleaned and all heating appliances serviced each year to ensure they are working properly. For upcoming holidays, keep exits clear of decorations so nothing blocks the escape route. Keep all decorations away from open flames and other heat sources such as lightbulbs and heaters.