Fire Prevention Tips

Apr 22, 2024, 11:46 AM by Dr. Sally Robinson

People gathered around a campfireRecently a horrific event happened on Galveston Island.  A beautiful, well-cared-for, historic home was consumed by fire.  In less than an hour the house was gone despite the timely appropriate response of the fire department.  The neighbors watched with horror and asked each other “did they get out?”  They did not.

This event is a painful reminder for all of us that when a fire starts in a home there is just minutes for the inhabitants to get out.  There is no time for confusion. There is much to do to be prepared.

One of the most important steps is to install smoke alarms and keep them in good working order.  Smoke alarms can be found for $10 or less in the hardware store or mail order.  They should be placed outside of every bedroom or any area where someone sleeps.  They should also be installed in the furnace area and at least one on every level of the home.

They should be placed away from the cooking area and bathroom as false alarms can occur while cooking or even showering. Some come with test buttons and should be tested monthly. Depending on the batteries they should be changed every year, usually when changing your clocks for the fall.  Some need to be replaced every ten years.   Never paint a smoke alarm. There are alarms with flashing lights for the hard of hearing.

There needs to be an escape plan for the family and it needs to be rehearsed. suggests drawing a floor plan of your home. Look carefully at the possible exits for every room.  Make sure everyone knows how to get out and that the door/windows can be easily opened.  Never use an elevator. Use the stairs.  There should be a chosen spot outside the home for everyone to meet after escaping. Teach your children that the sound of the smoke alarm means to go outside immediately and go to the chosen spot.  Parents of children younger than 5 years must plan for an adult to rescue them as they are too young to reliably rescue themselves.  Tell them not to hide and not to be afraid of the scary-looking firemen.

Teach your children how to call 911 for help but call from outside.  Teach your children your home address.  Teach your children to test any closed doors for heat with their hands. Do not open the door if you feel heat or see smoke.  Crawl low on your hands and knees as the air is cleaner near the floor.

Don’t stop or go back. Do not try to rescue pets or possessions for any reason. Let firemen know if anyone is missing from the chosen spot.  If trapped close all doors and stuff towels or clothing under the doors.  Cover your nose and mouth with a damp cloth to protect your lungs.

If your clothes catch on fire Stop, Drop, Roll over and over, call for help.

Practice makes perfect!

Dr. Sally Robinson
Clinical Professor, Dept. of Pediatrics

Keeping Kids Healthy
Published 04/2023


Also See:  

UTMB Pediatrics - Pediatric Primary Care
UTMB After Hours Urgent Care
UTMB Clear Lake Hospital - Pediatric ER & Inpatient Unit

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