Tips for fire protection |

Tips for fire protection

Al Bosworth

VAIL – Have you ever noticed how kids always stop what they are doing and wave when a fire truck passes by? If you’ve ever visited a fire station when kids are around, you probably noticed the bond kids have with firefighters. We love that bond. In fact, the inside joke around the station when kids say they want to grow up and be firefighters is for us to respond, “You can’t do both!” We use that closeness to our advantage when it comes to getting our messages out to the public. (Kind of like what I’m doing with this lead-in to this article now.) I’m sure those of you with younger children in the public school system were inundated with coloring books and other assorted items distributed in October during Fire Prevention Week. But upon closer inspection, you’ll see even those innocent coloring books and pencils are filled with fire prevention messages. All designed to start them off right when it comes fire awareness and safety. Firefighters routinely inspect all the commercial occupancies in town. And the majority of attention in the news about fires is devoted to the large scale, multi-company fires. Unfortunately, about four out of five fires occur in smaller occupancies that we can’t inspect, such as single family houses and condos. That’s why the bond with kids is so important to us. We try to get our message out through them. But not everyone has these little firefighters to bring home this information and do their fire inspections for them. So in an effort to reach those people, I will give you the adult version. It’s not nearly as entertaining but it is equally important and informative.1. Test your smoke detector. It should have a button on it that says, “Push to test.” Know what your detector sounds like so when it goes off at 3 a.m., you won’t be tempted to hit the snooze button. You should have a detector in every bedroom and on each level of the house. We recommend changing the batteries when you change your clocks yearly. If you have gas-fired appliances, install a CO detector. Carbon monoxide is a product of incomplete combustion or poor venting. It is colorless and odorless. And it kills.2. Have an “ABC” dry chemical fire extinguisher in the house. If you have one, dig it out of the closet, and mount it in the kitchen or near an exit. Turn it upside down and listen for the powder to “fall.” That will show if the powder has packed down in the container. Check the gauge to see if it is charged. If you’re unsure of its condition, check the Yellow Pages to find the local extinguisher companies.3. Make sure your address numbers are visible from the street. If there aren’t any, they are available at local hardware stores for about a dollar per number.4. Use circuit breaker strips in place of extension cords when possible. If you must use an extension cord, it should be thicker than the original cord. Do not run electrical cords of any type under rugs or furniture.5. Know where the gas, water and electrical shut-offs are, and keep their accesses clear. Label the individual breakers in the electric panel.6. Do not use boiler rooms or furnace closets for storage. As tempting as it is, they need the air circulation to function properly.7. Do not store combustible materials in unprotected attics, basements or other areas. Drywall provides a level of protection from fire. A fire with adequate fuel and air can double in size every 30 seconds. Fires occurring in these spaces usually are not protected by smoke detectors and could go unnoticed for long periods of time.8. Remember those fire drills from school? Even though you’re grown up, you still need them. Now we call them EDITH, short for Exit Drills In The Home. Stay low in smoke, feel the door for heat before opening it and have two ways out of each bedroom. Establish a predetermined meeting place, such as the end of the driveway, to ensure all the occupants are safely out of the house. Do not go back inside for your pets. The firefighters will rescue them when they arrive. They can survive longer because they are lower than the smoke.Fire codes are basically just common sense written down on paper. If something doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t, and there’s probably a reason for not doing it. If there is any question about meeting the code, please just call your local fire or building department. I’m sure they’ll be happy to help. If nothing else, check the coloring book we sent home.Al Bosworth is a member of the Vail Fire Department.Vail, Colorado

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