The Edmond Sun

October 5, 2012

Fire safety accompanies cooler weather

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — If you woke up to a fire in your home, how much time do you think you would have to get to safety?

A third of American households think they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life-threatening, according to a recent survey by the National Fire Protection Association. Unfortunately, the actual time available is often less.  

Edmond Fire Maj. Bill Brown said that’s why the Edmond Fire Department is teaming up with the NFPA during Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 7-13, to urge local residents to “Have Two Ways Out!” This year’s theme focuses on the importance of fire escape planning and practice, Brown said.

In 2010, U.S. fire departments responded to 369,500 home structure fires, Brown said. These fires caused 13,350 civilian injuries, 2,640 civilian deaths, and $6.9 billion in direct damage.

 “One home structure was reported every 85 seconds in 2010,” Brown said. “Fire is unpredictable and moves faster than most people realize. Having a tried and true escape plan with two ways out is essential to ensuring your family’s safety should fire break out in your home.”  

The Edmond Fire Department recommends the following tips for planning your family’s escape:

• Make a map of your home. Mark a door and a window that can be used to get out of every room.

• Choose a meeting place outside in front of your home. This is where everyone can meet once they’ve escaped. Draw a picture of your outside meeting place on your escape plan.

• Write the emergency telephone number for the fire department on your escape plan.

• Have a grown-up sound the smoke alarm and practice your escape plan with everyone living in your home.

• Keep your escape plan on the refrigerator and remind grown-ups to have your family practice the plan twice a year or whenever anyone in your home celebrates a birthday.

Brown said the EFD will host station tours, apparatus demonstrations, safety message skits in the area public schools and educational talking tours in the Children’s Safety Village during Fire Prevention Week to promote “Have Two Ways Out!”

Through these educational, family-oriented activities, residents can learn more about the importance of fire escape planning and practice, as well as the power of prevention, Brown said.

To find out more about Fire Prevention Week programs and activities in Edmond, please contact the Edmond Fire Department at 216-7303.



RED CROSS ADDS ADVICE

Each year, an increased number of structure fires accompany colder weather.

Just before 10 a.m. Friday skies above Edmond were overcast and the temperature was 52 degrees; the wind chill was 48 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Friday’s high was expected to be near 56, followed by a high near 55 on Saturday and a high near 59 on Sunday. Lows during the same period will be in the 30s, with a low near 41 Sunday night.

American Red Cross Central and Western Oklahoma Region CEO Janienne Bella said during the past year her organization’s regional office responded to 440 house fires and 35 multi-family fires (apartments, condos, etc.).

“But the good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of a home fire all year and during the chilly weather,” Bella said.

The Red Cross offers additional fire safety tips:

• All heaters need space. Keep all things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.

• Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.

• Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.

• Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.

Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces and chimneys inspected annually by a professional, and cleaned if necessary.

• If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.



marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108