Fire Escape Planning For Your Family
About 3,500 Americans die each year in fires, and approximately 20,000 are injured. The Bakersfield Fire Department believes that having a good escape plan will greatly reduce fire deaths and help protect you and your family if a fire occurs.
Have a Good Fire Escape Plan
In the event of a fire, remember - time is the biggest enemy and every second counts! In less than 30 seconds a small flame can evolve into a major fire. Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly.
Practice escape plans every month. The best plans have two ways to get out of each room. If the primary escape route is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need a second way out. A secondary route might be another door or even a window that leads to a safe location. For two-story homes, a window may lead onto a roof or a collapsible ladder for escape. Purchase only collapsible ladders evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be properly opened. Also, practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
Immediately Leave the Home
When a fire occurs, do not waste any time saving property. Take the safest exit route, but if you must escape through smoke, remember to crawl low under the smoke and keep your mouth covered. The smoke contains toxic gases which can disorient you or overcome you.
Never Open Doors That Are Hot To the Touch
When you come to a closed door, use the back of your hand to feel the top of the door, the doorknob, and the crack between the door and door frame to make sure that fire is not on the other side. If it feels hot, use your secondary escape route. Even if the door feels cool, brace your shoulder against it and open it carefully. If heat and smoke come in, slam the door and make sure it is securely closed, then use your alternate escape route.
Designate A Meeting Place Outside and Take Attendance
Designate a meeting location away from the home, but not necessarily across the street. For example, meet under a specific tree or at the end of the driveway or front sidewalk to make sure everyone has gotten out safely and no one will be hurt looking for someone who is already safe. Designate one person to go to a neighbor’s home to phone the fire department.
Once Out, Stay Out
Remember to escape first, and then notify the Bakersfield Fire Department using the 911 system. Never go back into a burning building for any reason. Teach children not to hide from firefighters. If someone is missing, tell the firefighters when they arrive on scene. Bakersfield firefighters are equipped to perform rescues safely.
Finally, having working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home dramatically increases your chances of survival. Smoke alarm batteries need to be tested every month and changed with new ones at least once a year. Also, consider replacing the entire smoke alarm every ten years, or as the manufacturer guidelines recommend.
For more information and additional safety tips from the Bakersfield Fire Department, please visit www.bakersfieldcity.us/fire.