A Spring Safety Check Up
Hello from the east side of the state and District 7. I can’t believe that spring is upon us, so here is a little tidbit of information. The first day of spring is called the vernal equinox. The term vernal is Latin for “spring” and equinox is Latin for “equal night.” On the first day of spring, a person at the North Pole would see the sun skimming across the horizon, beginning six months of uninterrupted daylight. A person at the South Pole would see the sun skimming across the horizon, signaling the start of six months of darkness. Holidays that occur in spring include Easter, Passover, April Fool’s Day, Earth Day, Arbor Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Cinco De Mayo. So with spring warming us up, that means that we will be jumping ahead to daylight savings time.
Thinking about fire safety in the cold winter months may seem more sensible than during the warmer months of spring. However, fire safety experts say that just because spring has sprung does not mean we should be less vigilant about fire safety. Residents are wondering what they should be doing this spring to protect themselves and their property from fire hazards. As you transition from sweaters to shorts, stoves to grills, and indoor holiday parties to backyard cookouts, keep these safety tips in mind.
Springtime is a great time to change the batteries in your smoke alarms. Working smoke alarms provide critical early warning of a fire in your home and allow for additional time for you and your family to escape before smoke and flames obstruct and hinder your exit.
Simply put, the risk of dying in a residential home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms. During a fire, smoke and deadly gases spread farther and faster than heat. That is one reason why most victims die from inhalation of smoke and toxic gases as opposed to burns.
A majority of fatal fires happen when families are asleep and unaware of the fire until there is not adequate time to escape. A smoke alarm stands guard around the clock and sounds when it senses smoke. This often allows a family the limited time it takes to escape.
Your local firefighters care about your safety and want to make sure that you have options when a fire occurs in your home. Fire extinguishers are relatively inexpensive and may mean the difference between a small fire and the destruction of your home. Fire extinguishers can save lives and protect property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives. Every residential home should have at least two fire extinguishers available, usually conveniently located near the kitchen, the garage, or the basement stairs.
However, it is important to recognize that a fire extinguisher has limitations and should only be used on a small fire. Since fires grow and spread rapidly, residents should immediately call 911, get everyone out of the home safely, and only fight the fire if it is small and contained with minimal smoke and heat.
Take advantage of the spring weather to review and practice your fire safety plan so that everyone can react accordingly in the event of a fire in your home. Research suggests that you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds in your home. Escape planning and practice can help you make the most of the time you have, giving everyone enough time to get out.
Warmer weather is synonymous with an increase in outdoor grilling and gatherings around outdoor fire pits. As expected, there is an inherent risk associated with open fires and outdoor cooking. A clean grill is one of the best ways to prevent dangerous fires. Keeping your grill at least 10 feet from anything flammable, including your home, is a great way to prevent a grill fire from becoming a home structure fire.
The necessary safety guidelines for an outdoor fire pit are much the same as for a grill, but there are a few other safety tips to consider when preparing to toast marshmallows. Before you build your fire, fill a bucket with water and set it next to the pit in case there is an emergency, as well to extinguish the fire when you are finished with it. Keep in mind that children are drawn to outdoor fire, especially with the promise of toasted marshmallows. Keep a close eye on them when they are near the fire and never leave young children unattended near a fire in the pit.
When you are in the throes of spring cleaning, take a moment and remember to add these fire prevention tips to your ritual. Emergencies happen fast. These tips can save you and your family from tragedy. For more information on springtime fire safety, visit www.nfpa.org or contact your local fire department.
See you at the convention in Springfield June 2-4. Have an awesome spring.