The danger from fire is obvious. It can lead to serious traumas, property damage, and even to the lethal outcome. During Fire Prevention Week, which took place in October 2019, the firefighters with a solid proven experience shared their tips to help people to prevent the fire or act safely in case the fire event happened. Below you can find some of them.
Experts Speaking: a Few Words about the Importance of Fire Prevention
Zack Zarrilli, Acting Firefighter
Zack Zarrilli is an experienced firefighter who also created and owns the SureFire CPR. This company provides CPR or advanced BLS, ACLS, AED, NPR, and other direction of the first aid classes led by firefighters, qualified paramedics, and experienced lifeguards. The main benefit of these courses is the basis for teaching which is the real experience of the experts. The following advice was provided by Zack, who has been working as a firefighter since 2004.
Knowledge and Preparation
One of the essential things to save their own lives and lives of family members is to be prepared for the fire and know how to act accordingly in the case the fire happened. So do not disregard simple safety rules and do not skip any advice or knowledge sharing.
Fire Extinguisher Proper Use
It’s a common mistake to store fire extinguishers in hardly accessed places like, for example, under the sink, in the corner of some cabinet, or which is worse in the garage. The main point is to store fire extinguishers in the accessible place, better if it is close to the exit. Another important thing is to call 911 as soon as it is possible in case you couldn’t eliminate the fire when it was small.
Speaking about fire elimination there’s also some common mistake to be avoided, like, for example, the way of using the fire extinguisher. Many people try to affect the fire’s top, which isn’t effective. The most effective way to put out the fire is to apply fire extinguisher at the fire’s base by directing the flood from it from the side to side. As lower you aim as more effective you are.
Don’t Come In Back
There’re many reasons why you might have to go back into the burning house, but you should never do it because it is very dangerous without special equipment. The main point is the firefighters are called and on their way, and they can do it being directed by you. Otherwise, coming into the burning house without proper gear you can be seriously injured by the smoke, pass out, or even pass away.
Fires Appeared During Cooking
When it comes down to the fire from cooking, it’s a common desire to take the pan and move it away from the stove either to the sink and water or outside of the house. Actually, this is the common reason for spreading the fire or getting 2-3 degree burns on the legs, arms, and hands as the result of the spilled burning oil or grease.
The correct action would be to turn off the stove and cover the pan with the lid or something like that, the cookie sheet would be also good for these purposes. This will choke a fire. Please, do not touch the pan or covered lid before they both will be completely cooled to prevent rekindling the fire with the access of the oxygen to it.
Chuck Roydhouse, Firefighter in Retirement
Chuck is a professional with a degree in Fire Science achieved in Shepherd University, an experience of 25 years acting as a firefighter, and the Clean Sweep company, found by him. He is also the President of the Chimney Safety Institute of America, shortly called as CSIA.
Providing his advice on fire prevention he divided it into the following parts:
- Statistics and facts;
- Tips from personal experience.
Let’s check them in more detail.
Facts and Statistics
The facts and statistics are gathered during 30 years of Chuck’s experience (25 years working as a firefighter and several years before acting as a volunteer). Chuck admits that things they have seen during his career are extremely devastating and many of them could be avoided in case people could realize how dangerous and fast-spreading the fire is. The stats are the following.
- 60% of the deaths caused by the fire in the house happened because smoke detectors either didn’t work or were not installed at all.
- Every day 7 people die from the home fires in the USA;
- During 2014-2015 the daily number of home fires was 350;
- Annually firefighters are called at the 400 thousands of fires, resulting in damage in billions of dollars and causing approx. 12 thousand injuries and 2.6 thousand of deaths;
- More than half of the fires started in the bedroom led to lethal outcomes.
Christmas time brings lots of accidents caused by improper maintenance of Christmas trees. Many people who install the live tree at their place forget to water it which leads to drying it out and increasing the fire danger. In the event of igniting the Christmas tree, it turns on the big fireball in a living room. It is impossible to get there immediately to put the fire out, and there is no way to help yourself in such a case.
A lot of fires are caused by improper applying of the fireplaces and woodstoves. Sometimes it happened when somebody of the neighbors called firefighters because the flame showed in the chimney, while the house owner even doesn’t know the fire started. Obviously, it is a very dangerous situation when the owner of the house doesn’t know that he has a fire in a chimney.
In the USA the average time for fire company response and getting the firefighters to your place is 5 minutes. Sometimes it can take 15 minutes to get to the house located in rural areas. In such cases, when the fire burns the house for 15 minutes there’re no chances to save something.
Fire Safety Importance
It’s important to take all possible prevention action because of the scope of possible consequences caused by fire. First of all, because the house and the home is one of the most significant investments and valuable possessions and its damage will cause serious financial losses. The main aim of the firefighters at work is to save your house and all belongings there, including furniture, documents, photo albums, and so on. But when they will finish the other types of damage it should be handled like smoke damage, water damage, and so on. The number of adverse consequences caused by a fire is huge and it’s much easier to take measures and prevent it than handling all risks connected.
The obvious and much better decision is to invest a relatively small amount to the preventive mechanisms than to face with all those devastating things related to the fire consequences:
- Pain from the losses;
- Trying to calm down crying children;
- Died pets;
- Family members’ injuries or deaths.
Chuck saw a lot of dramatic events caused by fires and knows how painful it could be. The firefighters are called in the most critical moment, but it’s not a guarantee for saving everything, sometimes firefighters can be helpless. This is why Chuck stresses the necessity to make fire safety and prevention of the number one priority.
Useful Tips from Chuck’s Experience
Tip 1: Check that you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed and working properly, it’s the first thing to be done in order to prevent fires in the home. The adequate installation considers having one of each detector at every level of the house and ensures the hallways outside of bedrooms are equipped with them. Please, remember that 60% of lethal outcomes could be avoided with working properly smoke detectors.
Tip 2: Ensure you have a developed exit plan for your house and your family members learned it carefully to know what they should do if the fire appears. The fire in the house is a confusing event, especially when it happened while all were sleeping and the reaction cannot be immediate. So the adequate level of preparation for the worst-case scenario is essential for saving lives and property.
It means that everybody in the family should know where to go to leave the burning house safely without matter where the fire started. It means to be prepared in case some doors will be blocked by preparing windows with fire escape ladders, which are affordable and easy in storage.
Tip 3: it’s recommended to sleep with closed doors. Chuck’s experience and statistics have shown that the closed doors can serve as good protection from the fire damage and heat. The real cases have shown that bedrooms which had closed doors during fire suffered from smoke only, while rooms with opened doors were totally destroyed with a flame. This is why sleeping with closed doors is an important part of the fire prevention process.
Tip 4: Keep ABC fire extinguishers of 15 lb in several areas around the house. The best practice is to have one of them in the kitchen, another one in the hallway, and the third one in the living room. In such a way, it doesn’t matter where the fire appeared, you’ll always have access to the fire extinguisher.
Tip 5: keep the dryer vent cleaned and properly maintained on at least an annual basis, which is the second widespread reason for fires at homes. This is why they always should be cleaned and frequently inspected as it is required by the National Fire Protection Association and Chimney Safety Institute of America. You can find the certified cleaning specialist just visiting their official website.
Tip 6: keep fireplaces, woodstoves, and furnaces maintained and inspected at least annually. Both organizations mentioned in the previous tip also recommend keeping every vent appliance maintained annually, but not only drier vents.
The root cause of the majority of fires started in the chimney is the absence of the regular maintenance work on it and cleaning provided in accordance with CSIA requirements. When the certified technicians make the respective inspection they check whether the appliance can be safely used and pay attention at the absence of creosote or soot buildups, that can easily ignite.
The creosote ignition is similar to the tar ignition with the huge energy release in a very short time. The masonry surfaces are impossible to contain this energy, which leads to cracks, and many fails. The process can be compared with the pouring of the boiling water to the glass with ice tea, which will be fractured in such a case. It happens because the glass’s molecules start to moving quickly becoming spastic and ready for explosion. The average glass cannot expand with the same quick speed to hold the heated material in contradiction to Pyrex glass, which is made specifically to take and absorb the heat and avoid cracking.
The same is applicable to the chimney, when you put too much heat it causes cracks of the inner terra cotta flue less than in a minute. During cracking, walls and other areas can be damaged by gases and flames caused by abnormal heat, which can lead to flame on the walls or attic. Such a situation is difficult to react to and mitigate, so it’s much easier to provide proper maintenance.
Tip 7: ensure heaters, any radiators or electric fans are used far away from flammable materials. The best distance to use heaters is at least 36” from furniture, newspapers left at the coffee table, drapes, or anything else that can be attributed to flammable materials. It is explained by the heaters’ property to dry out things, which can further lead to heating them and can cause the fire. Another thing to consider is to keep these heating appliances away from children, so they will not be able to touch them getting burns or other injuries.
Tip 8: auxiliary heaters should not be used with extension cords. These heaters have been already equipped with a specific long dualistic cord, which should be enough to get to any socket at your house. Turning it on into the extension cord may lead to heating the extension cord and the surface it is placed on or other flammable material close to it resulting in a fire.
Tip 9: use your receptacles properly and avoid overloading them. It can seem to be convenient to turn on 10-20 different appliances in one receptacle strip, but the truth is that receptacles setup doesn’t allow to do so. The sockets or circuit box overloads are dangerous. The fire of the circuit box can appear inside of the wall. It will smolder and keep burning for a while before it will become uncontrollable. If you feel need to use more outlets than you have, try to avoid using a receptacle strip. The better and safer decision would be to call a certified electrician for adding new outlets at the places you need.
Tip 10: ensure you don’t have any flammable materials close to the places where you usually cook. The fires that appeared in the kitchen are the most widespread reason for home fires. This is why the most obvious advice is to keep any flammable materials like, for example, drapes or paper box from the pizza away from the stove. Keep your bags brought from the grocery away from the stove too, even if you have the electric appliance you cannot be sure when it was used the last time and whether it had enough time to cool off. And in case you use a gas stove you’ll always work with fire, so please, ensure you don’t have any flammable things close to it.
Tip 11: you should never store any flammable liquids at your places such as gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, and others. All of them should be stored separately outside in special containers that can be easily vented in case of overheating. Keep it all far away from the living space, otherwise, gases releasing from them can be easily ignited by even a small source like the electrical switcher’s spark or even a light turned on on the boiler. In case you use the lawnmower working from gasoline don’t store it in a basement, because it can cause the gas accumulation there, which is dangerous as well.
Tip 12: do not smoke at home. The majority of bedroom fires were caused by smoking just in a bed. It’s a common situation when the person falls asleep because of the chemical effect of the cigarette, but the cigarette continues to burn just close to the mattress (polyurethane and plastic), linens, and other flammable materials. The plastic gives much more heat than a tree (in 2.5 times) and together with used glues, it can cause the rapid-fire.
Signature Water and Fire Restoration team know all possible damage brought with fire and smoke and hard consequences caused by it. We admire the job made by firefighters and appreciate they share their experience and advice. At the same time, we are ready to help people suffered from fire accidents with a qualified team of technicians working on fire and smoke damage elimination. We’ll be happy to bring your house or business back to the usual order. You can call us at +1-224-515-0100 at any time you need.