11 October 2011
I experience a fire when I was in high school. To say the least, it was frightening. I remember that we were awakened by pounding on the front door of the apartment building. Allegedly, the first floor apartment unit had been set on fire. My family occupied the second floor unit and the smoke and fire was undetected until we were awakened by the pounding that prompted me to open our door. It was a friend of the family who was on her way home and came running when she noticed smoke coming from our house. I still call her an angel today.
How did the smell of smoke and the crackling of the fire able to burn without notice? Unfortunately, we did not have smoke and fire alarms in our apartment building. Sadly, a fire evacuation plan was unheard of, but fortunately, we all got out safely.
This week, October 9th to15th is Fire Prevention Week nationwide. It is imperative that families who have working smoke and fire detectors to implement a fire evacuation plan for your living situation. If you already do have on in place, practice it. This can save the life of a scared child. In the fire that my family experienced, my Grandmother was delayed from escaping the fire because my cousin who was very young and frightened, ran up to the third floor and hid under a bed. However, one of the most joyous moments in my life came when my Grandmother and cousin walked through the smoke and flames and into our waiting arms.
I would recommend that parents and guardians discuss evacuation plans and procedures and post them. Be sure to cover all the bases to get your family out safely and to call the fire department as soon as possible. As important as it is to designate a meeting place, it is as equally important to designate someone to be the Family's Fire Captain. This person can be in charge of tasks such as, testing the alarms monthly, organizing practice drills, etc.
Since 2009, there have been an average of seven people who died daily in home fires in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Let's do our best to make sure that our families are protected to the best of our knowledge from dangerous house fires. Flames take only a few minutes to engulf a home while fire evacuation plans can ensure that your family reach safety within a couple of minutes. Be safe!