Home Safety-Escape Artist

 

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Houdini was the master of escape as no straight jacket, cell, chain or padlock could keep him trapped for very long.  However, most of us haven’t mastered the skills of Houdini and look and listen as we are made aware before takeoff the location of emergency exits, just in case.  Experts will tell you that you should always have at least two ways out in the event of an evacuation and that includes leaving your home quickly in the event of an emergency like a fire. 

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I live in a one-story house so if I’m in the bedroom and have to evacuate the building I have at least four easy ways out of the house.  The front door, a sliding glass back door, garage door, and the bedroom window.  As soon as I am out of the house and headed to the predesignated meeting area, I’m dialing 911 to report the emergency.  The meeting area is critical so you know everyone got out of the house.  It is the same thing companies do when they have to evacuate and may refer to the meeting area as the assembly area.  Either way, you want to do a head count so when the firefighters arrive they know if it’s a search and rescue or just fight the fire.

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In a two-story house, escape is a little more challenging.  If you are in a bedroom upstairs to exit the house you would need to come down to the ground floor using a staircase.  Not all homes have a front and back staircase to give you more than one way out so what happens if the stairs or both are blocked by flames?  Then you need to go out of the bedroom window as fast as possible.  That’s why an escape ladder is critical.  They can range in price from $35 to $100 depending on materials and manufacturer ask your insurance agent or local fire department for recommendations. It’s like insurance, you lay the money out to buy it for that peace of mind and hope you never have to use it. 

Don’t wait until an emergency to see if everyone can use the ladder.  It is highly recommended that you practice together at least once a year so everyone who may have to use the escape ladder is familiar and capable with it.  In fact, keep everyone on their toes and have an unannounced drill.  Whoever makes it to the meeting area gets pizza.  Also don’t forget to include plans to get the very young, disabled, the elderly, and pets out as fast and safely as possible.  

The best way to avoid having to evacuate in the first place is to practice good fire prevention practices in and around the home and then you won’t have to do a Houdini and escape.  If you have questions about fire safety or other safety issues in the home or workplace check out our blog archives for more articles or feel free contact us, we’re here to help.

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Hanukkah Candles, Christmas Tree Lights – Festive Dangers

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Reduce Home Holiday Risk – Don’t Kill Santa

As we show you how to make your home a safe haven for the holidays are there any other potential hazards that may exist?  What about that nice cozy fireplace that Santa will use to deliver presents?  When was the last time you used it and even more important, when was the last time you had the chimney cleaned?   Each time you use your fireplace, deposits  of ash, water vapor and other debris build up within your chimney and if not cleaned out can fuel a fire in your chimney that could spread throughout your home.  Be sure to keep flammable liquids and materials away from your fireplace, you don’t want to give the fire any added fuel to spread with and please avoid overloading your fire with too much wood.  Keep the fire manageable.  In addition here are 3 more tips for a safe fireplace.

1 – Don’t leave a fire burning in the fireplace when you go to sleep.  All it takes is one little spark to create a house fire.

2 – Don’t close the flue in your fireplace until all ambers and smoke is extinguished and out.  Closing it too early can cause dangerous carbon monoxide to spread throughout the house.

3 – Place all ash in a metal container, never in plastic or paper as any live ambers can burn through and create a house fire.

4 – Most important, test and make sure your carbon monoxide detector is operating.  

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Reduce Home Risk – Your Stove is a Diva

Your stove is very much like a Diva. When it’s on, it needs lots of attention to be happy but can become vexed in the blink of an eye.

You’ll be working with your Diva often during the holiday gauntlet, (the time period between Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day) and keeping focused and avoiding distractions while cooking and baking is key to a problem-free relationship.  

Still, being prepared and ready for any flare-ups and you’ve won half the battle if not more.  Also, check and then keep the filters and collectors in your stove hood clean and free of dirt and grease as it builds up quickly with all the holiday cooking.  Highly recommend that you set a schedule of cleaning them every two weeks like the pros do and you can set a reminder on your calendar.  Same for the stove top and oven, keep them clean and free of debris.  

Then, of course, you should also know the 3 ways to put out a grease fire.

– NEVER use water on a grease fire.

1 – Put a lid on it.  Place a lid over the pan on fire and remove the heat source. This smothers the flames by cutting off its oxygen.

2 – Pour baking soda on it.  Yes, that handy versatile box of baking soda can also add firefighting to its long list of uses.  It also smothers the flames. 

3 – Use your fire extinguisher.  Focus the stream on the center of the fire and sweep the area left to right and back until the fire is out.  Sure you’ll ruin whatever was cooking but it’s much easier to replace a menu item then your house.  If at any point the fire begins to get out of control leave immediately,  close the door behind you as you exit and call 9-1-1

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Reduce Home Holiday Risk

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day are fun and joyous but they can be dangerous as well.  As people are gathering, visiting or traveling, cooking and eating, make sure your home is a safe haven for everyone during the holidays and not a house of horrors.  

Extension cords are not a solution either.  If there are too many items plugged in, it can heat up creating a fire danger as well as a trip hazard.

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The CERT Experience

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I recently had the pleasure to complete a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team ) class offered by the Vallejo Fire Department.  After 6 weeks of class every Tuesday evening which totaled 28 hours of instruction, demonstration and practice, that all came to completion on a beautiful Saturday morning on Mare Island with a final written exam, practical/drill and the breaking of bread between us new team members and our firefighter instructors.  

The instructors were fantastic, all of them seasoned veterans sharing their years of experience and knowledge.  The CERT program coordinator for Vallejo is Captain Eric Strom who is an excellent instructor, very good speaker who’s easy to listen too with a great sense of humor.  Not once did I feel bored or lulled into a nap, but that also could have been due to the robust firehouse coffee.  Captain Strom had a fantastic support group of fellow first responders as instructors; Battalion Chief Cliff Campbell, Captains Morty Culverwell and Art Gonzales and Engineer Ben Hill were all just as captivating and that’s what makes the course so worthwhile.  You are not only learning the materials in the course guidebook on what to do, which is pretty much black and white but you’re getting first hand accounts of actual real life incidents from first responders and what their thought process was on how they handled a situation.  You learn a lot including about our city fire department and you develop even more respect for what they deal with on a daily basis.  You also can network with other Vallejoans taking the course and build bridges.

godzilla I highly recommend the course.  Why should you take it?  The reality is cities of all sizes struggle daily with their budgets and the cost of firefighters, police, infrastructure repair & maintenance, parks and recreation, public transit, administrative staffing, courts, pensions and lawsuits.  The level of city services are not what they once were and that includes the number of police and fire on duty.  That means for those of you who live in areas where natural disasters can occur, like tornadoes in Oklahoma, hurricanes in Florida or earthquakes in California, when they happen, you and your family could be on your own for a few days if not weeks waiting for gas, water and electricity to return along with other services.  In Vallejo there are only 21 firefighters on duty each shift, that means in the event of a severe quake, they would be tied up responding to the hundreds of calls they would receive after.  Depending on the conditions of the roads in and out of town, additional off duty first responders could be greatly delayed if at all able to get here. The hospitals will be flooded with all kinds of injuries from walking wounded to severe trauma.  This mean you will have to shut off your own gas and water if needed as the fire department responds to the areas hardest hit and/or where fires may be happening.  It means that the fire department will use their resources the most efficient way possible to save the most lives.  So your son’s broken arm may be an immediate priority to you, but the burning seniors center will be the priority to them.

 

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“Main Street, USA” Where search and rescue drills are conducted.

We were lucky in this town for the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 but we sure got a wake up call from the 2014 Napa quake and this program teaches you how to be prepared by putting together a disaster kit, emergency supplies and how you can take care of yourself, family and then neighbors, like a broken arm, after a disaster, allowing firefighters to concentrate on the higher priority calls.  It’s like car insurance.  You hope you never have to use it but if you are in an accident or it’s stolen, you have piece of mind.  Same with the disaster kit.   You hope you never need it but nice to know it’s there.

You can take what you want out of the class.  Self preservation after the big one, doomsday preparation but I think the intent is to help develop a sense of community.  All to often you don’t know a neighbor until something bad like a disaster comes along.  Sure you nod or wave at each other but how well do you know them?  Are they frail, do they have physical limitations or other factors that limit their mobility.  Do they live alone and will they need assistance in an emergency or do they have skills that can help everyone in the neighborhood?   Don’t wait for the next disaster to meet them, get to know them now before you’re thrown together into a blender cause the anonymity happens.  My wife and I had lived in our first apartment together for 8 months before I was transferred to the bay area.  The day we were moving,  the woman who lived in the apartment next door came out and asked if we were moving in.  Never did get her name.

Don’t know when the next class is scheduled to happen but if you’re interested it may be a good idea to email secretary, City of Vallejo, Fire Department, Fire Prevention Division: Shirley.Herbert@city of vallejo.net  and let her know you’re interested in taking the next class. 

Next installment we’ll take a look at putting together an emergency supply chest.

 

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Just Putting it Out There – It is About Time

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Sunday, November 1st. most of us will be changing our clocks as Day Light Saving time comes to an end.  The good news about this time change is you’ll have the opportunity to get an extra hour of sleep.  This also serves as a great reminder to change the batteries in your Smoke/Carbon Monoxide detectors as well as double check that your fire extinguishers are still fully charged and operational. You want to do everything to protect your home and family.

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Don’t put it off.   You don’t want to wind up being haunted in the middle of the night by the death chant of a dying battery in your smoke detector.  Just like the professionals you also want to have the confidence that your fire extinguisher or any fire fighting equipment will work properly when you need it.  Do it any time this weekend or next, before or after your favorite game and make it a standard routine twice a year – at each time change, do it.  Get the family involved in making creative reminders or a master check list you can all keep track off.  Remember the life you save may be your own.

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Your social success

This is also a perfect opportunity to discuss with the kids, fire safety and how to use escape routes in case of a fire and where the evacuation meeting place is located.

If you have any questions about fire and home or workplace safety please contact us at Warehouseflow.com