Fire Safety Tips
Spring Cleaning for Your Safety
Spring is here! We have read the seed catalogs, the golf magazines and maybe even thought about where we might take a vacation this year. We are thinking about the warm weather headed our way as we make our annual list of things that need to be done this spring. Items on this list could include how we are going to attack the crabgrass this year, planning our gardens, cleaning the golf clubs and getting the spring cleaning done. However, don't forget that a clean house is also a safer house.
- Clean out storage areas such as the garage, attics, basements and the outdoor shed on a regular basis. An accumulation of trash, boxes, and piles of old clothes and other combustibles in the home are fuel for fire. Clutter gives fire a place to start and could create an obstacle that might prevent escaping safely. Getting rid of this stuff will help reduce the chance of fire in your home. Consider having a yard sale or throw or give away useful items you are no longer using.
- When storing away any electrical heating device, check that the cords are not frayed or separating, and make sure that the equipment is working properly. This way if anything needs repair, it can be taken care of before the next heating season.
Handling Gasoline Carefully
Along with spring cleaning, this is the time to get the lawnmower, rototiller and other gasoline powered equipment ready to go. Whenever you store gasoline, use extreme caution. Gasoline is a flammable liquid that readily gives off vapors which are easily ignited with a spark or small flame. Gasoline should only be used as a motor fuel and never as a degreaser or cleaning solvent. Using gasoline for any other purpose other than a motor fuel is just too dangerous. Gasoline should be stored in tightly capped containers intended for that use. It should be stored in a garage or preferably an outdoor shed, never in the basement or home itself.
Avoiding Smoke Inhalation
Smoke is a killer, so "stay low and go." Most people have a natural fear of fires and burns, but feel relatively safe in smoke. The Tinley Park Fire Department warns that smoke is the real killer in fire. About eight out of every 10 fire deaths are attributed to breathing poisonous smoke and gases. Some victims never even see the flames.
Since smoke is lighter than air, it rises. In a building, it will go to the ceiling first and then bank down. It winds up stairs and down hallways. To prevent smoke inhalation, get low and go. Crawl to the nearest exit as quickly as possible. And once out of the building, stay out. Although you can’t see it, smoke is filled with toxic gases. Plastics in particular, give off a highly poisonous gas when burned. Since most homes have large amounts of plastic furnishings and contents, these fires can be deadly. In addition, smoke contains carbon dioxide, a tasteless odorless gas that causes confusion, reduced mental capacity and eventually death. It is important to stay low to avoid breathing a large amount of these poisons.
Maintaining Smoke Detectors
It is also important to install and maintain smoke detectors to provide early warning to fire and smoke. Exposure to smoke for even a few seconds or minutes can be fatal. Smoke detectors give you the extra edge you need to escape safely. Every family should have a home fire escape plan that includes the use of smoke detectors and knowledge of the "stay low and go" method. Even young children can be taught to respond properly. No matter where a fire is - in a home, shopping center, hotel, office, church or anywhere - your response should be the same: get down on your hands and knees below the smoke and crawl to safety!