Like other emergency professions such as law enforcement, medical services and others, their work isn’t always just about saving lives through acts of courage. It’s also about educating the community on prevention and safety techniques that can save lives and reduce the hazard of serious injuries.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, statistics from 2010 are alarming. Just a few include:
n Fire departments across the nation in 2010 responded to 1,331,500 fires. According to a 2010 NFPA report based on a national survey, “As high as this seems, it is actually a decrease from the previous year and the lowest number since 1977.”
n These 2010 fires caused an estimated 3,120 civilian fire deaths.
n These fires injured 17,720 civilians.
n These fires caused more than $11.5 billion in property damage.
n These fires involved 482,000 structures.
A few other alarming statistics from 2010 also point to the fact that a fire department somewhere around the country responded to a blaze every 24 seconds; some 384,000 fires, or 80 percent of all structure blazes, occurred in residential properties; some 85 percent of all fires occurred in the home; some 215,500 vehicle fires occurred, causing 310 civilian deaths, 1,590 civilian injuries and $1.4 billion in property damage; and some 634,000 outside and other fires occurred, causing $501 million in property damage.
In a full-page ad in Tuesday’s edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner recognizing Fire Prevention Week, as well as firefighters representing Bradley County Fire Rescue and the Cleveland Fire Department, the “Top 10 Fire Safety Tips” were listed.
The ad also recognized by name each of the community’s firefighters.
The list of “Safety Tips” includes:
1. Install and maintain smoke detectors: “Test them every week, following the manufacturer’s directions. Don’t ever borrow detector batteries for other uses. A disabled smoke detector can’t save your life.”
2. Plan and practice escape: “With your family, plan two ways out of every room. Once you are out, stay out. At least twice a year, have the whole family practice the escape plan.”
3. Space heaters need space: “Keep portable and space heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn. Never leave heaters on when you leave home or go to bed.”
4. Smokers need watchers: “Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers and put water on butts before discarding them. Before going to bed, check under and around sofa cushions for smoldering cigarettes.”
5. Be careful cooking: “Never leave cooking unattended. If grease catches fire, carefully slide a lid over the pan to smother the flames, then turn off the burner. Never put foil or other metals in a microwave oven.”
6. Matches and lighters are tools: “In the hands of a child, matches and lighters are deadly. Store them up high where kids can’t reach them, preferably in a locked cabinet.”
7. Use electrical safety: “Replace any electrical cord that is cracked or frayed. Don’t overload extension cords or run them under rugs. Don’t tamper with the fuse box or use fuses of an improper size.”
8. Cool a burn: “If someone gets burned, immediately place the wound in cool water for 10 to 15 minutes. If the burn blisters or chars, see a doctor immediately.”
9. Stop, drop and roll: “Everyone should know this rule. If your clothes catch fire, don’t run! Stop where you are, drop to the floor, cover your face with your hands to protect your face and lungs, and roll over and over.”
10. Crawl low under fire: “Smoke is dangerous. If you encounter smoke, use an alternate escape route. If you must exit through smoke, the cleanest air will be several inches off the floor. Crawl on your hands and knees to the nearest exit.”