Does your home have a working fire alarm? Do you have an escape plan in the event of a fire? Did you remember to turn off the stove?
Growing up in the suburbs near Trenton, New Jersey, I found questions like this a nuisance because fires in my area were a rare event. It was not until I began school at Temple University that I started to appreciate why my school engraved fire safety tips into our minds. During my years at Temple, I would often hear a sound unfamiliar to me when I lived in the suburbs; the sound of a fire truck siren. To my surprise, it was not uncommon to see a fire truck racing down Broad Street three, four times a week. Now, working at the Red Cross as an AmeriCorps NPRC member, I’ve seen first-hand the effects of fires on the people of Philadelphia and the importance of fire safety.
September was National Preparedness Month, and one of the things we all need to prepare for is fires. Fire is an unforgiving chemical process that will continue to spread and be fatal if not accounted for. Of the 74,000 disasters Red Cross responded to this past year, 93 percent of them were fire related. In fact, fire kills more Americans each year then all the natural disasters combined. As National Fire Safety Month begins, it is essential for everyone to take steps to help protect their homes and the people they care about.
Common house hold items are often a source of fire; anything from the stove in the kitchen to the space heater used to warm up the house during those cold winter nights are all potential fire hazards. Even things we cannot see like the wiring behind the wall can cause fires. It is important to learn more about these items in order to prevent fires from occurring.
The most important way to help save lives in the event of a fire is that first alert to a problem. This is why it is essential to install and maintain all smoke alarms throughout the house. Smoke alarms can help notify people a fire is occurring and help them escape before the fire spreads to all available exits in the house. The next thing you must do is have and practice your escape plan. In fact, the Red Cross recommends having at least two ways out of every room in your house. At Temple, that meant investing in a fire ladder for myself. My second way out was through a third story window, so I had a ladder ready, just in case.
Preparing and planning for fires can protect what you love most. Please take the time to visit http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/home-fire to learn more about fires in order to prevent them and prepare for them in the event that a fire does occur in your home.