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Fighting flames
Firefighters battle a fire at building 9386 on JBER October 13, 2011. All occupants of the lodging facility were accounted for and no injuries were reported. October is Fire Prevention Month. Everyone is encouraged to conduct fire drills and have fire safety plans in place. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Zachary Wolf)
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Fire prevention month is a good time to ensure safety

Posted 10/10/2012   Updated 10/10/2012 Email story   Print story


by Ford Brooks
JBER Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention

10/10/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- A small flame can get out of control and turn into a major fire in less than 30 seconds, and a house will fill with thick, black smoke and become engulfed in flames in only minutes.

Every second counts in the event of a fire, so you and your family must always be prepared.

Conducting home fire inspection walkthroughs will help you reduce the chances of fires in the home. Also, having a well thought out and practiced fire escape plan will increase your survivability during a fire.

To develop a plan, draw a map of each level of your home showing all doors and windows.

Find two ways to get out of each room. Make sure all doors and windows that lead outside open easily and won't get frozen shut.

Practice your fire escape plan twice a year with everyone in your household, including children and people with disabilities.

Only purchase collapsible escape ladders for second floor window and balcony exits that are evaluated by a recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratory.
Use the ladder only in the event of a real emergency.

Teach children how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them, and have a plan for everyone in your home who has a disability.

Practice your fire escape plan at night and during the daytime.

Designate a meeting place outside about 75 feet away from the building and take attendance.

Teach children not to hide from firefighters.

If a fire occurs, immediately leave the home when a fire occurs, using the quickest and safest route.

Ensure you feel the door for heat with the back of your hand and never open doors that are hot to the touch.

A hot door could indicate the fire is on the other side, so leave the door closed and use your secondary escape route.

If the door feels cool, open it slowly.

If you must escape through smoke, remember to stay low, under the smoke. Smoke contains toxic gases and heat, which can disorient or overcome you.

Escape first and then notify the fire department using the 911 system. Never go back into the building for any reason.

Let firefighters know right away if someone is missing since they are equipped with the proper gear to perform a rescue.

Here are some tips to help you conduct a fire safety walkthrough of your home, which should be conducted on at least a monthly basis.

Keep clothes, blankets, curtains, towels, and other items that can easily catch on fire at least three feet from space heaters and away from stove burners.

Place space heaters where they will not tip over easily, and only use UL-approved space heaters.

Have chimneys cleaned and inspected every year, always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces and leave glass doors open while burning a fire unless the glass is designed to be closed.

Never leave cooking unattended; be sure your stove and small appliances are turned off before going to bed.

Check for worn wires, don't staple or run cords under rugs or furniture, and never overload electrical sockets.

Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children, and never smoke in bed.

Make sure cigarettes and ashes are completely extinguished in the ashtray or run under water.

Ensure candles are not being used when an adult is not in the immediate area.

Candles need to be kept on a sturdy holder and three feet from combustibles.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2010 there were 369,500 reported residential fires resulting in 2,640 deaths and 13,350 injuries.

By conducting home fire inspections and observing sound fire prevention practices, you should be able to prevent most home fires.

Having a home fire escape plan in place, and practicing the plan on a semi-annual basis, will help everyone understand what to do in the event a fire does occur in your home.

For more information, call 552-2620.

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