Cop Corner: In case of a fire

February 22, 2012

 

Sgt. Kim Cole

By KIM COLE

mcp columnist

 

Before

  • Talk to your family about the issues related to a fire and prevention
  • Establish a spot outside the home where everyone must go for a headcount
  • Replace fire alarm batteries during Easter and Christmas weeks
  • Review areas where there is a potential for fire: stored rags, furnace filters, dryer vents, cardboard near the furnace, or hot water heater
  • Check wiring for careless splints, frays, hot wires, overloaded circuits
  • Determine the last time chimneys were cleaned to eliminate soot deposits and take action
  • Review storage of flammables in the house and correct any issues
  • Be aware that children sometimes play with matches and fire; take appropriate positive action
  • Do a video or camera review of the house and contents and store it away in a safe place to document a future insurance claim
  • Pack a “rescue suitcase” full of clothes and blankets; store it near the garage door for quick access so there is a change of clothing
  • Read your insurance policy to determine the extent of your coverage
  • Get a safe deposit box to store valuable documents and small items of significant or sentimental value off site
  • Keep fire extinguishers and flashlights in key places throughout the house, make sure they are charged and are not mixed in with the “stuff” in the house and suddenly invisible when you need them the most.
  • Putting out a fire is easy; take away the fuel: get the flame source out of the house if it can be done safely with gloves, apply water or air, cover the burning pot or the fire source with a blanket and the fire will go out

During

  • Grab a cell phone, evacuate the house and call 911
  • Check the marshalling point for all occupants and pets
  • Move cars and flammable objects away from the fire area if they are not involved
  • Do not re-enter the house for valuables; that is what insurance is for!
  • Do not let anyone back into the house! For example: a second story fire will create a toxic smoke accumulation that combines the burn product of household chemicals, clothing, rugs, etc. In the absence of a vented roof, this smoke cloud will fill the upper rooms and then move lower in the house on the stair case. If you try to go up the stairs to re-secure valuables, you will actually see this black cloud at its lowest point on the way up the stairs and discover that it is impossible to breathe once you enter it. Do not go there; that is why fire personnel wear airpacks!
  • While escaping the house during a fire, keep as low as possible to stay below the smoke; it will save your lungs. Even if crawling is slower, do it to save your lungs!
  • Get water on the fire as best as you can from a garden hose; spraying from the up-wind side to the fire, aiming at the bottom of the fire.

After

  • Keep out of the house until you receive direction from the fire department
  • Avoid all electrical and gas connections as they may no longer be safe
  • Avoid walking on floors as the fire may have damaged the supporting beams
  • Wear stout boots and protective gloves as the fire will have exposed nails and other hazards like broken glass
  • Ask for police protection from trespassers
  • Contact your insurance company immediately to determine the full extent of your coverage and benefits
  • Realize that you have more to be thankful for even in a time of loss. The support will come from community service organizations; they will help you replace your goods as long as you took the time to save your own lives!

 

Kim Cole is a sergeant on the Mason County Sheriff’s Dept. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily represent the Mason County Sheriff’s Dept. nor MasonCountyPress.com. 

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