Fire Preparation And Prevention
Fire Preparation And Prevention
Stacy Gerlich (Fire Captain & Paramedic) gives expert video advice on: What are common household fire hazards?; How can I prevent household electrical fires?; How can I prevent household fireplace fires? and more...
What is 'CERT'?
CERT is a program that is a nationally recognized program and it stands for Community Emergency Response Training. CERT is in the city of L.A. and it's a free seven week course. This course takes you through disaster preparation that covers anything from earthquake, to fire, to flood, to hurricane, tornados and terrorism. And then we have a chapter on fire suppression. We talk a little bit about fire chemistry at CERT, including how to use a fire extinguisher. Our third session is on triage. We talk a little bit about disaster psychology and the incident command system, which is how you run a large incident. Within our CERT agency we have this whole hierarchy in place, so if we have any incident, whether it is a fire or a medical incident, there's someone whose in charge, an incident commander. So we teach you the structure of how that works at CERT. And then the last chapter is basically what we call terrorism awareness. Things to look for when you travel, going into the websites of the councils and checking on if there are any alerts and those types of things. And then we do an exercise twice a year. We have a tremendously large exercise, where we have anywhere from between 250 to 300 people show up and we incorporate all those weeks of training and create scenarios for you, and you're working with people throughout the city to get tasks done. This is really just preparing you and giving you that information so that in the event of the next disaster you're going to fair much better.
What are common household fire hazards?
Most common fire hazards, as far as household objects are concerned, would be again appliances, such as curling irons which are a huge fire hazard! Hair-dryers as well, because what happens is on the back of the hair-dryer, there's a little screen, and that gets filled up with lint, and often people, they don't think about cleaning it up, and then it gets hot, overheats, and it could catch on fire. The other thing include clothes dryers, as indeed we see a very high incidence of single-family dwelling fires as a result of that, and that's because over time, there is this tremendous build-up of the lint that happens behind the appliance itself and the wall. Even though you have the vent tubing, it doesn't mean that this stuff doesn't seep out a little bit and collect. And it gets pretty bad and this is a really good source for fire to happen there. Those are the most common household fire hazards.
What kind of roof provides the most fire protection?
As far as single family dwellings and roofing materials go, the wood shake is out, it's obsolete. Actually now they have the light-weight concrete roofing, which would be better in terms of fire protection. So anything nowadays really that you are going to purchase, and that's going to be installed, will certainly meet the codes and standards that you need to adhere to. But I would definitely stay away from the wood shingle roofing, even though they are treated now, and they are the look which people usually go for, it's not necessarily the safest. So the lightweight concrete is really the safer way to go in terms of roofing providing the most fire protection.
How can security bars on my windows be dangerous during a fire?
Security bars on windows, again, are usually put on so that people cant get into the house. You see them in areas where there is potentially a higher rate of crime. But, we lose anywhere from 2,500 to 3,000 people a year because of these fire safety bars, or safety bars in general. That's because people don't remember, or even have an idea that there needs to be a safety release from the inside in order for you to get out of that building should it be on fire. Remember, if you cant get out, we cant get it and it's a pretty helpless situation. If you've purchased a home that had security bars on the windows, that were already installed, you need to make sure that you can open that bar from the inside in case of a fire.
What is the most important part of fire safety planning?
When you talk about fire safety planning, we have a nice little acronym that we use. It's called EDITH, which is Emergency Drills In The Home, and what we like to do is we like to educate the population on the matter. We say that if you have children, you sit down at the kitchen table and each has a piece of paper and a pencil, and you draw out sort of the schematic of the house, and then you say, as parents, if you are in this room or in this end of the house, this is the route that you should take to get out in case of a fire and this is where were going to meet. So the preparation aspect of fire safety is tremendous, and it saves so many lives, and it helps relieve the anxiety because everybody then knows what the expectation is, and where you're going to meet up with the rest of the family should something happen in case of a fire.
What fire precautions should I take if I have a second floor?
If you have a second floor, or even a third floor, the first fire precautions you should take is to always have a fire extinguisher on every level. That's a cheap insurance for the price we paid for our homes. Another consideration in fire precaution would be an escape ladder, so you can throw it out a window. Speaking of windows, make sure that they are not painted shut, that they are not nailed shut, and often times we put a bar in there to prevent a burglar coming in. So just know that these are the kind of things that could certainly prevent you from escaping a very serious situation if you were on a second floor.
What should I teach my children about fire safety?
Children are great because they love to learn, they think it's fun, so you can kind of make fire safety interesting and educating for them. You should talk about fire and if there's a fire in the house, then they should stay low to the ground because of the fact that there's usually cleaner and fresher air closer to the floor. Secondly is talk to your children about the stop, drop, and roll if they already catch on fire. Rather than running through the house frantically, stop, drop to the floor, and just roll back and forth, and then that way if they are on fire or their clothing is on fire, it will help suffocate that and smother the flames. But kids are great, they want the information, so you can make learning about fire safety sort of a game. And when you incorporate exit drills in the home, when you incorporate stop, drop and roll, then what they'll do conversely is usually take it to school, and then tell their friends, and then it will become sort of an educational period for them.
What is the 'StopDropAnd Roll' fire safety method?
The Stop-Drop-And-Roll is basically, instead of running while you're on fire, you stop where you are, drop to the floor, cover your face with your hands, and roll back and forth to try to extinguish the flames. That's really what it is and it's exactly what it says. You just stop, drop to the floor, cover your face to protect it, and then roll back and forth to combat the flames on your body.