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By Kellene Bishop
I’m not afraid of an earthquake. I’m not afraid of a famine or a pandemic. I’m not afraid of a nuclear attack. And in some sadistic moments I hope that some idiot will actually try and harm me or my family so that I can put my firearm self-defense training to good use. :) Obviously, the absence of fear is one of the fruits of being prepared. But what about a fire? Having my house catch on fire is my number one fear. To me that seems so arbitrary. A fire is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t matter how well prepared I am, my toaster or my refrigerator, or any other electrical wiring could just decide one day to spark and voila, I’ve got a fast spreading fire that I can’t do much about in less than three minutes. In such a case a great deal of my “preparedness” can literally go up in flames. While I regularly focus on being prepared for a crisis or some kind of natural disaster, I give just as much focus to preventing the one disaster that can wipe me out—a fire.
First of all, there are a few facts that you should be aware of. The U.S. has the highest number of fire deaths per capita than any other country. Why? Because our use of electricity is the highest. Once every 16 seconds a house fire is reported in our nation. A flaming fire can double in size every 30 seconds. Overall, flames travel nineteen feet every second. Unlike some misinformed macho beliefs that circulate out there, you literally have only three minutes to get out of the house in the event of a fire before you become a death statistic. It’s not the fire that kills a person; it’s the lack of oxygen, smoke inhalation, toxic gases, and asphyxiation that kills. All of these killers can be present in even the smallest of house fires. The majority of fires occur while you are asleep. You can NOT rely on being warned of a fire in your sleep with your sense of smell. It is during your sleep that this sense is at its lowest. And the likelihood of a smoke detector properly alerting you to a fire is only 44.2 percent. (Gotta love those kinds of odds, right?) So what can you do to sleep better in your home? Plenty. Here are a few vital preparedness tips so that all of your other preparedness efforts don’t go up in smoke.
- Keep non-vital items unplugged. The kitchen is the most common place for a fire to occur and contrary to popular opinion, it’s not because of grease fires. Toasters and other modern conveniences are a huge culprit in heating things up. Keep all non-essential items unplugged. This means the toaster, the countertop mixer, the blender, etc. (Be sure to do this with you curling irons and blow dryers in the bathroom as well.)
When you use the fire extinguisher, be sure that you aim it at the base of the fire and then sweep it back and forth. There have been several incidences in which the use of a fire extinguisher only SPREAD the fire because all it did was spray the flames broadly from being used incorrectly. For starters, it’s important that you have an “ABC” fire extinguisher. It’s also important that it is a full metal extinguisher, including the nozzle, as plastic can melt and malfunction very easily. (I don’t understand the logic of stores that sell the cheap plastic versions. You won’t see those kinds on the walls of their own store, so why should it be OK for your home?) Be sure to shake up your extinguisher every six months to prevent the settling of the insides. This will ensure you don’t have a jam when you need to use it. Fires are common in the kitchen, the bedroom, the garage, and rooms with a fireplace. Do you have fire extinguishers there? Since a fire is most likely to occur when you are asleep, wouldn’t it be wise to keep one next to or underneath your bed? After all, you keep some kind of a self-defense weapon there since a break-in is most likely to occur at night, right? Why not a fire extinguisher as well?
Maintain and use quality smoke detectors. Here’s the aspect of fire safety that really gets me. Do you realize that the majority of mainstream smoke detectors have about 50 pending lawsuits against them at any one time? Why? Because they didn’t work when necessary. Sure they go off when you burn the bacon or have too many romantic candles lit, but during a fire they are less likely to go off because of how they are scientifically built. What’s worse is that out of all of these lawsuits, the companies never end up having to pay. Why? Because if you read the arduous fine print of a disclaimer you will see that smoke detectors aren’t “foolproof” and that the “parts could fail at any time for any reason.” Yup. The manufacturers actually put this in the information in the product for all the world to see. It’s just highly unlikely that you or I will actually read the part that says that they “shouldn’t be relied on for saving a life in the event of a fire.” They even go so far as to say that they may not go off in over 35% of all fires! (Statistically they don’t go off in over 55 percent of all house fires!) It also says in there that if you don’t change it every two years, clean it every week, and change the batteries every six months that the company isn’t at fault for them not working anyway. Geesh! These made in China or Mexico pieces of garbage are what most Americans rely on to save the life of their family?! There have been numerous incidences in which the smoke detectors don’t go off until the majority of the house has burned to the ground. No wonder you don’t readily find a long warranty on most smoke detectors.
I will recommend that you invest in a detector that has a heat sensor AND an optical sensor that watches for smoke (known as thermal and optical sensors). I’m not talking about using a fancy security system. Heck, the flames can burn through the walls lickety split and then you have no way of the security company being alerted of a fire. If you’re willing to do a little detective work, you’ll find smoke detectors that will have a REAL warranty (about 25 years), with a long reputable company history, and an optical and a heat sensor. This is ideal to truly protect your home and family.
On a side note I would also recommend that you prepare appropriately for a fire disaster by stocking up on Burn Free. It really does do a great job in the event of a burn in pulling away the heat and subduing the pain. A fire burn is very, very painful. Relief is critical.
- Last but not least, use some common sense. Electrical items, furnaces and heaters need to breathe. Don’t stack plastic bags and other things around any of them whatsoever. Don’t stack things on top of or around your television. Clean behind your refrigerator regularly (at least every 6 months) and be sure that you not only empty the lint filter in your dryer, but you also wash it with soap and water to eliminate the film that comes from your fabric softeners. You MUST clean out the lint hose at the back of the dryer regularly. Never leave your home with your dryer running unless you’d like to increase the likelihood of not coming back to one. Have all of your vital documents scanned on a thumb drive/disk and stored outside of the home. And finally, be sure you have suitable fire insurance not only to replace your home, but to replace ALL of your belongings therein, including your food storage, firearms, ammo, clothing, etc. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that the cost of these things sure add up. (If need be, take pictures of your belongings and store them outside of the home to ensure proper reimbursement of that which actually can be replaced.)
Ensure your preparedness efforts and materials are safe from a fire. Invest in that which will assist your safety. If wheat and water are critical to your survival, then protecting those items is just as important.
Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved. You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.