Early detection. What do these two words bring to your mind? A grain-sized speck on a mammogram? A colonoscopy?
House fires can be detected early with an advanced, well-designed fire alarm system. This will help save not only lives, but valuables, which sometimes cannot be replaced (there’s only one photo of you and Great Grandpa on your third birthday a month before he passed away).
Furthermore, losing “everything” in a fire can mean taking up to two years to resettle. Why wait for this to happen when you can have a fire alarm that will trigger a call to a dispatcher ASAP?
Seconds count for the escape, because you have less than one minute to get your entire family and pets outside to safety once that fire erupts. A smoke detector can double your chances of survival.
Have you taken precautions to prevent, or to detect early, a life-threatening actual disease that kills less than 3,000 Americans a year? Why not also take measures to prevent dying from a house fire—which kills 3,000 Americans every year? Of these fatalities, 40 percent involve homes without a working smoke alarm.
Most fire fatalities are from smoke inhalation rather than being engulfed in flames. Your view to the exit can be blocked by furiously thick, choking smoke. How often do you hear a report that says, “So-and-so died of smoke inhalation?” vs. “So-and-so died from third-degree burns over 90 percent of his body”?
Though people DO get trapped and their bodies burn, autopsy reports usually show that they were dead from smoke inhalation before their bodies became consumed by flames. Awful. Drowning in smoke.
- Safety begins by getting a smoke detector that always stays activated, even when you’re cooking. The device is designed to detect smoke first, not fire, for a reason. If the alarm goes off, get out of the house/apartment before your lungs get poisoned. And stay out.
- Call 9-1-1 from outside.
- For the hearing impaired and heavy sleepers, smoke detectors are available that flash lights and set off a vibration beneath a pillow.
- What about retrieving family members and pets? You won’t need to if you’ve previously run fire drills for the entire family.
- For every room, establish two ways to escape (e.g., window and door). Then have all household members physically practice as fast as possible these escapes—which all lead to a single, predetermined meeting place outdoors.
- Run the drills in the middle of the night, during heavy rain, frigid cold, sweltering heat, because a fire doesn’t care how comfortable or awake you are.
- The escape plan should take into consideration babies, children, the disabled and elderly, and of course, Prince and Cupcake.
- Make sure that everyone knows how to get out of a second story window. Have a collapsible ladder on hand.
- Don’t forget about your smoke alarm. No fewer than two times a year, clean it and push its test button. To remember to change the batteries, coincide this with changing your clocks. If you’ve had an alarm all along, replace it if it’s more than 10 years old or you’re not sure of its age.
- The National Fire Protection Association says that pets can start a fire. A cat might start playing with an electrical cord, knocking down its lamp, which is already turned on…need you read more to figure out how this ends?
- A dog, cat, even a bird can knock over a burning candle. It’s hard to keep a candle out of reach from a cat unless it’s in storage. So either don’t use your candles or get rid of them.
- Cats also jump onto stoves. Of course, you can’t get rid of your stove. But you don’t want to get rid of Cupcake, either. There are several devices on the market that can train cats to stop jumping on things. A stove knob can be accidentally turned by a cat. See if you can remove these knobs.
Heaters can be knocked down by dogs and cats, though this won’t be a problem if the unit has an automatic switch-off that’s triggered when the device is knocked down. If your heaters lack this sensor, replace them with units that have it.