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Fire strikes quickly

Dr. Drew Werner

EAGLE COUNTY – “It will never happen to me.” How many of you have said those very words only to regret that they were ever spoken. Fortunately for most of us, that has happened only in the little things. Then it becomes an opportunity for improvement, a time to rethink what is easily taken for granted. Two days ago, I received a phone call that more than opened my eyes.As many of you might know, I have a twin brother. Like the bookends, my mother used to call us, we are indeed a lot alike. Living in Upstate New York not far from where we were born, he has a beautiful wife and two great sons. Also like my family, a dog and cat fill out his house. It was stunning then when he called two nights ago. Their family was watching the Yankees on TV when their youngest smelled smoke. Moments later his mom knew it wasn’t just an active imagination. As smoke drifted upstairs she safely got herself and two children out of the house. My brother grabbed his fire extinguisher and ran into the basement looking for the fire. The heat was intense, but the smoke was unbearable as the door swung closed behind him and power went out. Thankfully, on his last breath of air he found his way out of the basement. Several fire departments responded quickly. Although the house was destroyed, everyone is safe. They hope to rebuild. It is easier to fix things than people.He hopes we can all learn from his tragedy. With many thanks to Jon Jon Asper, Eagle’s fire chief, here are some tips to prevent fires and get everyone out safely if one occurs: n Do not overload electrical outlets. Watch for frayed or damaged electrical cords. If you have small children at home use outlet covers to prevent things from being put where they don’t belong. n Place smoke detectors on each floor of the house, as well as in each bedroom or sleeping area. While newer houses have all the smoke detectors wired together, older homes may not. That means your upstairs bedroom detector may not go off when the one in the basement is alarming. Smoke detectors have batteries because in many fires the power is the first thing to go out. Changing the batteries once a year is mandatory, although Jon Jon recommends twice a year as a safety precaution. He reminds us to do that when we think spring forward and fall back and reset our clocks.n Fire extinguishers in the home can help put out a small fire you saw start. ABC extinguishers are for the kitchen and most areas of the home while CO2 fire extinguishers are for electrical fires, such as those started by computers and electrical equipment. n Jon Jon also cautions us strongly about the risks of burning candles in the home, which cause many fires locally. Burning them while you are home is potentially dangerous. Leaving them unattended is a disaster waiting to happen.n Plan and practice a fire escape route, and be sure you know at least two ways to get out of your home safely as one exit might be blocked. Remember EDITH, or Exit Drills In The Home. He encourages us to get out swiftly, but do not run or panic. A slip or fall getting out may put not only your life in danger, but those behind you, as well. n Perhaps most importantly, just get out. Do not try to save anything or put the fire out. Incredibly, a fire doubles in intensity every minute! The CDC’s fire safety Web site tells us to “Prepare, Practice and Prevent” A great place to go for more information is http://www.firesafety.gov/. Remember the upcoming health fair on April 22, sponsored by the 9Health Fair and Lions Club in Eagle, one will take place at the Eagle Valley Middle School, 747 East Third St., in Eagle from 8 a.m. to noon.Dr. Drew Werner of the Eagle Valley Medical Center writes a weekly column for the Daily. He encourages health questions. Write him by e-mail to editor@vaildaily.com or c/o Editor, Vail Daily, P.O. Box 81, Vail, 81658.Vail, Colorado


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