Fires Today are more Dangerous than they were 10 Years Ago
It’s true! Think about the contents in our homes. Furnishings are now made out of plastics or some form of synthetic materials. The foams and plastics melt when heated and turn into a liquid that will burn, producing an excessive amount of heat and thick black smoke.
An experiment conducted by Under Writers Laboratory showed this concept all too well. They built two rooms and set them up exactly alike as a living room with the same amount of furniture. The difference is the modern room had the common furniture that we use today and the other room had furniture from 15 years ago. The older furniture was made largely with natural fibers that do not burn as easily. The room with modern furniture became fully involved with fire from floor to ceiling in just over 3 ½ minutes. The room with the older furniture took over 29 minutes to become fully engulfed with fire. This is a dramatic difference based solely on what we bring into our homes.
Fire Prevention Week is October 8-14, 2017 and this year’s theme is Every Second Counts – Plan 2 Ways Out. With today’s fires, you have roughly two minutes from the time a fire starts to get out. Making sure that you always have two ways out of every room is critical, especially if one is blocked. The two ways out of most rooms include a door and a window. Do the doors open easily? Do you always have a clear path to an exit door? When seconds count, be sure to keep obstacles out of the way.
If your home were to catch on fire, are you able to open your windows wide enough so that an adult can climb out of them? Do they unlock easily? How difficult is it to kick the screen out of the way? Do your kids know how to fully open the window and remove the screen? If not, you need to practice with them. If the bedrooms are on a floor above the first floor, do you have a fire escape ladder? You can find them at most of the home improvement stores and it can literally mean the difference between life and death if you are trapped in an upper story room. Be sure the ladder ready to use and if kids sleep in the room, they know how to use it. It is best to have the people sleeping in the room be able to locate the ladder, open the window, know how to break out the screen and be able to deploy the ladder. The escape ladder should be stowed under the bed in the corner closest to the window and stored so it is ready to use.
Having working smoke detectors is the best way to alert you and your family members of a fire. The Marion Fire Department recommends a smoke detector in every sleeping area, outside of the sleeping areas and on every floor of the home. Smoke detector batteries need to be changed at least once a year and ideally twice a year. Smoke detectors should be tested monthly. A smoke detector can save your life, but only if it is working before the fire starts.
The Marion Fire Department provides fire safety education year round, but connects with elementary students in particular during Fire Prevention Week. This year we will educate around 630 third grade students, 650 first grade students and 450 kindergarten students during Fire Prevention Week. It is our hope through education that we prevent a fire from ever starting, and that they know how to escape if a fire does start.