Preparedness tips for household emergencies and neighborhood disasters, or, how to survive when those around you are Freaking Out!
In just two minutes, a housefire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.
- Fire is FAST! In less than 30 seconds a small flame can turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames.
- Fire is SUPERHEATED! Heat is more threatening than flames. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air will scorch your lungs and melt clothes to your skin.
- Fire is DARK! Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness.
- Fire is DEADLY! Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.
Create and Practice a Fire Escape Plan
In the event of a fire, remember that every second counts. Lights may not work, house may be filled with smoke, it may be hard to breathe, it may be really hot, and you may be disoriented. You and your family must always be prepared. Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly.
Twice each year, practice your home fire escape plan. Some tips to consider when preparing this plan include:
- The first rule is to GET OUT of the house.
- Find two ways to get out of each room in the event the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke.
- A secondary route might be a window onto a neighboring roof or a collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows.
- Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be properly opened.
- Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
- Teach children to GET OUT! (Not to hide anywhere in the house or from firefighters.) Explain to them they may to crawl; staying below the smoke.
- Practice with the entire family meeting at a pre-designated place that’s a safe distance from the house, preferably out of the weather.
A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving what could be a deadly housefire.
- Install both ionization AND photoelectric smoke alarms, OR dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors.
- Test batteries monthly.
- Replace batteries in battery-powered and hard-wired smoke alarms at least once a year (except non-replaceable 10-year lithium batteries).
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, both inside and outside of sleeping areas.
- Replace the entire smoke alarm unit every 8-10 years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Never disable a smoke alarm while cooking – it can lead to disaster.
“Preparedness tips for household emergencies and neighborhood disasters” is submitted to the Town Creek Newsletter by HOA member, Jess Wade. Now retired, Jess served for 10 years as Coordinator for the Dallas County Medical Reserve Corps, Public Health Preparedness and Bioterrorism Division of the Dallas County Department of Health & Human Services.