October is National Fire Prevention Month.
Michigan continues to be among the top states in the country for fire fatalities. According to the fire marshal, the number of 2018 fatalities in Michigan has already surpassed the number from all of 2017.
Larry DeWachter works for the Michigan Fire Marshall and for Brighton Area Fire Authority. He says, in most fire fatalities there was not a working smoke detector.
Today Brighton Area Fire Authority held an open house, inviting the public to come learn about what fire fighters do, while giving the public an opportunity to practice important fire safety skills.
Once a house fire starts, the countdown to survival does too.
Nowadays, flames spread faster through homes than ever before because of the furniture and decorating materials.
"Back in the 70s, the type of fabrics, when the smoke alarm went off, you might have had 15 minutes to get out of the house, but now our fabrics are made out of petroleum products," DeWachter said. "It burns quickly, faster, hotter and you only have two or three minutes to get out of the house."
Seconds matter, which is why you need to have working smoke detectors in every room of the house.
DeWachter also says you should let your kids help test the alarms so they know what it sounds like and what it means. It's important to have an emergency plan, but even more important to practice that plan.
"At work we do fire drills. At school we do fire drills. We’ve got to start doing them at home with our kids," DeWachter said.
In Brighton’s simulator, we practiced exiting a home on fire filled with smoke.
"Don’t call 911 in your house, get out first," DeWachter said.
Heat rises, so if the room is smoky get down on your knees and crawl to the nearest exit. If there is a door, touch the door to see if it is hot. If it is not hot, it is safe to open. If it is hot, keep it closed.
If the door is not hot, it’s ok to open and crawl through. Close the door behind you to help contain the fire and buy you more time to exit.
There should be two ways to exit every room in the house. Buy a ladder for the second floor, in case fire prevents you from reaching the stairs.
To use a fire extinguisher, set it down and remember P.A.S.S.:
- Pull the Pin
- Aim the hose
- Squeeze the trigger
- Sweep back and forth
If there is pressure on the trigger too soon, you won't be able to pull the pin and use the fire extinguisher.
So practice using your equipment before you need it.
If you need a smoke detector and can't afford one, contact your local fire department or the Red Cross. Also, check out the "Push the Button" viral video campaign.