Since the dawn of modern man, fire has been something that we have met with equal reverence and fear. It provides warmth and a means of cooking, but can just as easily burn and destroy if not respected and controlled. In our modern lives, electricity has largely made open flames unnecessary (though some still prefer gas flame ovens). However, homeowners and tenants should not let fire safety go by the wayside, as accidental fires still occur–and far more often than you may expect.
How can you prevent fires and protect yourself and your family? A bit of fire safety can go a long way.
Fire Safety Advice: Prevention and Reaction
The key to fire safety centers around prevention and preparation, both of which are important in equal measure. Fires tend to spark when we least expect them, which leads to panic and a delayed escape that could cost you and your family dearly. The best way to prevent this panicked state is to ensure that your home’s fire safety standards are set and a plan is in place if the unexpected occurs. The following tips are especially helpful for parents of children, who may not understand and fully respect the destructive power of an out-of-control fire.
- Never place candles in areas with low ceilings, near loose-hanging fabrics (drapes, blankets, towels), or in reach of children.
- Never leave candles unattended.
- Do not leave cooking food unattended.
- Ensure that a fireplace remains cleaned and the vent is open before starting a fire.
- Store propane tanks away from open flames and ensure all valves are completely shut.
- Make a habit of double checking gas ovens after use to ensure that they are in the “off” position.
- Only store gasoline in OSHA- and DOT-approved gas containers, never smoking or approaching with an open flame.
- Turn off portable heaters and keep them safely away from flammable materials.
- Avoid smoking indoors, especially in bed.
- Keep working fire extinguishers in the house, especially near the kitchen.
Though prevention is important, the fact that freak accidents can occur at any moment means that preparation is also needed.
- Make an escape plan that allows for two methods of exit from each room and practice fire drills to ensure the entire family knows what to do in an emergency.
- Every room on every level of your home requires a working smoke alarm. This includes bathrooms.
- Teach everyone to close their doors to limit the spread of fire.
- Smoke alarms should be tested monthly and have batteries replaced, if necessary.
- Ensure that children know to call 9-1-1.
- Teach all residents the stop, drop and roll technique.
- Buy a fireproof safe to store important documents and heirlooms for safe keeping.
Once a fire is beyond your control, always make your escape the priority. It is tempting to try to grab valuables before making an exit but this is a foolish and potentially deadly mistake. A house fire can cause:
- First degree burns: Red skin with minor pain on the top layer of skin. Relatively harmless, but still painful.
- Second degree burns: Blistered, extremely painful skin that can take months to fully heal.
- Third degree burns: All layers of the skin are charred, making healing without skin grafts impossible. Pain is not present due to severe nerve damage.
- Fourth degree burns: Charred skin, muscle and even bone, this level of injury is life threatening and could easily result in amputation.
- Smoke inhalation: Smoke is full of harmful particles, chemicals and more that can permanently damage lungs or cut off oxygen completely.
If you are renting a property, your landlord is responsible for ensuring that your home is not negligently unsafe from the risk of fire. If you suspect that they voluntarily neglected to ensure fire alarms were in place, gas was not leaking, the fireplace was not obstructed or a number of other fire safety standards were met, you may have a case if a fire has damaged your property.
If you are injured because of the negligence of others, please do not hesitate to contact the personal injury attorneys at Wieland Hilado & DeLattre today.