Saturday, April 6, 2013

Fire Safety comes to us today courtesey of the letter F

Today's post is brought to you by the letter F.

Let's talk about something a little less navel-gaze-y today.
Let's talk about fire safety.  Oooh, look at that!  Look at all those elementary school flashbacks you had to those weird little workbooks and smoky-smelling stickers that told you about how to stop and then drop and then roll. 

Well, we're not kids anymore.  We live in our own houses and apartments now.  We work in big buildings and drive cars and go to all sorts of places filled with buildings and people and trees and wild things. 

And fire is still a real thing that happens. 

And it happens a lot.  And you hear about it a lot - at least I do, and so I give myself permission to superimpose my own exposure onto your life right now. 

But let's look past the cooking fires, the candle fires, the "cigarette on gramma's mattress" fires that we are so well prepared against.  We have our smoke alarms and we (or our property managers) check them and replace the batteries regularly.  We have our escape plans and we talk about them with our kids.  We know what the alarms sound like, where the fire extinguishers are, and how to work them.

So let's not think about a fire that starts in our own homes right now.  Let's think about the fire that starts in the unit next door.  Let's think about the fire that starts as an accident in our neighbor's house.  This time we have TIME to call for the fire department.  But now everything else is kindof blurry.  Do we evacuate?  Do we grab a garden hose? Do we get our cameras and take what's probably going to be some great front-page footage?

Or what about something even scarier over which we have even less control?  What about the neighborhood gas station having a fire?  Or what about a fire breaking out after someone rear-ends you in heavy traffic?  Or what about a wildfire bearing down on your property at 3am and you are on vacation in Madrid and have no idea that the dog-sitter can't get ahold of you?

Horrifying situations, all.  Right?  Do you have a plan for these kinds of things?  I'm not talking about the ever-vigilant, gun toting, white-knuckled panic kind of plan.  I'm talking about a reasonable idea for keeping your emergency contact information readily at hand in a few places.  I'm talking about maybe reviewing the area surrounding your property and looking for ways to keep wildfires at bay with what's called "defensible space".   I'm talking about emergency preparedness...  like the little graphic on the left there that the CDC used to have that says "if you're prepared for the zombie apocalypse, you're ready for anything".  

Fire preparedness is much easier than that whole zombie situation.  Unfortunately, fires are far more likely than zombies.  SO it's reasonable to be ready for them.  Do you speak with your neighbors or know if they (or their pets) need special assistance to evacuate their residences in the event of a fire? 

Do you know where the nearest fire hydrant is to your home? not that you'd use it, of course, but that's where the fire department is going to be swarmed when they're putting out the fire... so if you need to park your vehicle "out of the way" then THAT is probably a good place to put on your "don't park in that area during an emergency" list.

Do you have a basic BASIC carbon monoxide detector in your home?  They're cheap, they're easy to use, and they can let you know if your boilers, car engines, or upstairs neighbors are trying to kill you while you sleep.  All inadvertently, of course.

Do you know how to use a fire extinguisher?  Surely you have one in your kitchen...  what about your car?  What about your workplace?  When the fire alarm goes off in your workplace - even if you don't evacuate - do you know how you would evacuate?  Do you realize you should?

Have you met with your local fire department or supported one of their pancake breakfasts?  Those parties are more than food and fundraising.  It's a chance to meet the brave women and men who have promised to keep your family as safe as possible on the worst day of your life.  It's nice to know what they look like and hear them talk about ordinary things.  Because they're just people, you know.

Finally, when it comes to fire safety... do you know what to do when it comes to burns?  What about on your own body?  what about on your pet?  Do your children know?  As they get older... do they care?  Do you?

Being aware of simple things like this isn't always about Saving Lives.  Very typically it's these simple things that can save the exacerbation of a wound and the loss of property.  Ultimately, these simple steps save lives.  But you don't have to die to have your day ruined by fire.  Having your cul-de-sac blocked off because Mr. Johansen had a fire start in his garage...  or because old Mrs. Crank's barbecue accidentally sparked a small greasy fire on her dry back lawn...  or because the teenagers on the corner fell asleep with candles burning in their bedroom... 

Fire safety isn't just about you and your family.  It is a community awareness that, like a good vaccination program, makes everyone stronger and safer. 

Today I encourage you to look closely at the paths you take in your life and think about the unthinkable happening in someone else's life and how you would want to respond to that.  Fire is common.  Fire is natural.  Fire doesn't have to be a big and scary thing, though.  If we're all just a little bit ready for it, we can all be a little bit better off when we have to face it.

Also - make sure you're insured.  Get riders for all that fancy art on your walls too.  And that diamond jewellery.  Because when that stuff goes up in smoke, you may not be covered.

In the mean time, if you're in the market for a Carbon Monoxide detector, I can reccomend no better website than this one:
We've been very happy with the Kidde products we've used.
This is NOT a paid advertisement.


Rowena said...

Very thought provoking blog! I'm going to check out those pancake breakfasts you mention...not just for pancakes! mmm pancakes. At the moment, all I know is that I would save the cat and my husband in a fire, my possessions can be replaced. My friend lost her mum in a fire a few years ago, some drunk put a bin up against her front door and set fire to it, why would you do something like that?

Kristen Dyrr said...

People who live in fire-prone areas (like I do) usually know exactly what to do in these cases, especially because we've already been close enough to a fire to at least have to prepare for the possibility of evacuation. Unfortunately, fire in less fire-prone areas are common as well, but many people in those areas just don't think it will ever happen, so they're just not going to think it's a real danger.

From A to Z, Kristen's blog:

Poke The Rock said...

Thanks, now I have another thing to obsess about...argh. I will make an emergency list tonight!

Tami Von Zalez said...

Damyanti from AtoZ said you needed some attention, so I popped on by ~

I recently noticed a billboard with Smokey the Bear - they changed the phrase to, "Only you can prevent wildfires."

Silvia Villalobos said...

A lot of very good points here. California is famous (notorious?) for wild fires, and we do have somewhat of a plan, but nothing this detailed.
This is very well put together.
Silvia @ Silvia Writes