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The week of Oct. 7-13 has been designated National Fire Prevention Week, a time when we focus attention on promoting fire safety and prevention. While we should practice fire safety throughout the year, it is good to have a specific time to pay close attention to potential fire hazards that go undetected around the house or workplace.
Fire chiefs of Douglas County have recently developed a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) for the county that not only identifies high-level risks in the county but also lists areas of concern such as roads that are not accessible to fire trucks. The CWPP focuses primarily on the rural areas, but it pertains to everyone, because there are potential fire hazards just about anywhere you look.
The CWPP considers anything from unnecessary rubbish to the propane tank being too close to the house. It may call attention to an unmowed field next to the house or even firewood stacked too close to a structure.
During fire prevention week, take a look around your house, identify any potential fire hazards you see, and do what you can to eliminate them.
Around the house, many bedroom fires are caused by misuse or poor maintenance of electrical devices, careless use of candles, smoking in bed, and children playing with matches and lighters.
Most potential hazards can be addressed with a little common sense. For example, be sure to keep flammable items like bedding, clothes and curtains at least three feet away from portable heaters or lit candles, and never smoke in bed. Also, items like appliances or electric blankets should not be operated if they have frayed power cords, and electrical outlets should never be overloaded.
When school children visit the fire station or firefighters talk to students about fire prevention, there is a sort of checklist that is gone over. Students are told:
• Install and maintain a working smoke alarm outside of every sleep area and remember to change the battery at least once a year (twice a year is preferred).
• Designate two escape routes from each bedroom and practice them regularly.
• Teach everyone the “Stop, Drop, and Roll” technique in case clothing catches on fire.
• Older students are told to develop a fire escape plan for their home – and practice it. Children and their parents need to talk about a fire plan, designating a meeting place outside, a safe distance from the house, where it is agreed all will meet in the event of a fire.
Children need to understand that if the house is on fire, once they get out they should never, under any circumstance, go back inside until it has been confirmed to be safe. Children are also told to not hide in a fire, even if they know they are responsible. Oftentimes children will hide in a closet, behind or under a bed, or behind furniture, especially if they know they are going to get in trouble.
When firefighters visit the school, students are shown the turnout gear and equipment firemen wear; children are told to not be afraid of the fireman.
Kids need to understand that matches, lighters and candles are tools, not toys. If you suspect that a child is playing with fire, check under beds and in closets for telltale signs like burned matches. Matches and lighters should be stored in a secure drawer or cabinet.
One more thing that is especially important for everyone – both young and old – and it seems so simple but is so often ignored: know your address. If you live in town, be sure you know your correct street address, then write it down close to the telephone so you can read it off in an emergency. You would be surprised how many people can’t recall their address when in a panic. Make sure the kids also know their address.
Outside the city, know what county road you live on, and again, write down the directions so you can tell someone how to get to your house.
Use landmarks, if necessary, but pinpoint them as closely as possible by using county road numbers.
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We were told this week that County Road 436 in the Rome area was being graded. The caller said, “That’s news and it needs to go in the paper.”
Nothing more to be said.