Many people have seen the devastation caused by fires at home and work. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more than 4,000 Americans die and more than 25,000 are injured in fires annually – many of which can be prevented. Direct property loss due to fires is estimated at $8.6 billion a year.
Fire can strike at home or work, oftentimes with little or no notice. We have all seen the images from San Bruno, California where a local utility fire killed seven and impacted hundreds of local residents (including some retail employees). Forest fires in Boulder, Colorado have raged for over a week burning businesses and the homes of local firefighters.
FEMA and the U.S. Fire Administration websites are full of important information about fires and I strongly recommend you take some time to be informed and be prepared. As part of our series during National Preparedness Month, we chose to focus on fire preparation and safety this week.
Tip #3: When designing a Fire Response Plan, consider planning for before, during and after the emergency.
Before a Fire
- Make sure fire detection and suppression equipment (such as smoke alarms and sprinklers) are working properly.
- Review escape routes with your employees at work (and family at home).
- Teach people to stay low to the floor (where the air is safer in a fire) when escaping.
- Do not use frayed or exposed wires or loose plugs.
- Do not overload extension cords or outlets.
- Consult with your landlord and local fire officials about other important fire safety and prevention information.
During a Fire
To escape a fire, you should:
- Check closed doors for heat before you open them.
- Crawl low under any smoke to your exit – heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling.
- Close doors behind you as you escape to delay the spread of the fire.
- Stay out once you are safely out. Do not reenter. Call 9-1-1.
If your clothes catch on fire: stop, drop, and roll until the fire is extinguished. Running only makes the fire burn faster.
After a Fire
- If you detect heat or smoke when entering a damaged building, evacuate immediately.
- If you are a tenant, contact the landlord.
- If you have a safe or strong box, do not try to open it. It can hold intense heat for several hours. If the door is opened before the box has cooled, the contents could burst into flames.
- If you must leave your home or business, identify someone to watch the property during your absence.