Novak: Fire in the new year |

Novak: Fire in the new year

Mark Novak
Valley Voices
Mark Novak

While the news of the day continues to be the omicron variant, another killer continues to make its presence known in our society. In the past 10 days, a fire in Philadelphia killed 12, eight of whom where children, and injured 10 others, while a fire in New York killed 17, eight of whom were children, and injured over 60 people.

While it is easy to rationalize that these fires occurred in major metropolitan areas, the ravages of fire are not confined to large cities. Across the United States, seven people die in structure fires each day, with the elderly and the young being most vulnerable.

The real tragedy is that most fire deaths can be prevented with a few simple measures. First, remember to check smoke alarms every month to ensure that they are still properly functioning. Batteries should never be removed from a smoke alarm to silence it. It is also important to remember that smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years. Just like any other electronic device, smoke alarms have a finite life.

Another important preventative measure is to sleep with bedroom doors closed. Closed doors slow the spread of smoke, which is the primary killer in structure fires and help slow fire growth. It is important to recognize that a home fire can become impossible to survive in as little as 4 minutes.

In fact, newer homes burn eight times faster than older homes. This is largely due to the change in the way our homes are built and the amount of synthetic materials in our homes today. Synthetic materials release a tremendous amount of heat energy and myriad toxic chemicals. Keeping doors closed while you sleep can provide precious extra time to escape from the fire.

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Finally, the most effective preventative measure in a fire is the presence of a fire sprinkler system. The presence of fire sprinklers and working smoke alarms reduces the risk of fatal injury by 80%.

This new year, let’s resolve to protect the ones we love and take these simple steps to prevent future tragedies.

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