By Bobby Hamil, Clayton State University Chief of Police, Office of Public Safety
October is National Fire Safety Month, knowing what to do before a fire starts and what to do after one starts can save lives, ensure business continuity, and mitigate the disruption of families and lives. The following safety information is being provided to address various types of potential fire hazards:
• Smoke detectors should be installed in every type of residence and on each level of the residence. They are inexpensive investments and are easily installed. Also, batteries should be replaced at least once a year, or sooner if the detector chirps.
• Space heaters, which will be commonly used in the coming winter season, should be placed at least three feet away from curtains, furniture, bedding, or any other potentially flammable item. Never leave space heaters on upon leaving your residence, and keep children and pets away from them at all times.
• If someone gets burned, immediately place the wound in cool (not cold) water for 10-15 minutes to ease the pain. If the burn blisters, see a doctor.
• If your clothes should catch on fire, remember to stop, drop, and roll to smother the flame. Don’t run.
• Candle safety—candles are popular in homes, especially during holiday seasons. Never leave a lit candle unattended in any room, and don’t light candles near combustible materials, like curtains, bedding, etc. as referenced above regarding space heaters.
• Electrical safety — routinely check appliances for frayed or damaged wiring. Cease using if detected.
• Don’t overload extension cords.
• Be careful when using appliance in bathroom and kitchens and keep away from wet areas.
• Cooking is the primary cause of residential fires, and unattended cooking is the primary cause of cooking fires.
• Keep cooking surfaces clean to prevent food and grease build up.
• Turn handles of pans inward to prevent spills.
• If there is a cooking fire, place a pan lid over the flames to smother the fire and turn off the heat source. Allow to cool before moving the pan or the lid.
• Extinguish other cooking fires with baking soda (an additional reason to buying baking soda for refrigerators along with maintaining a fresh smell).
• Keep oven door shut and turn off heat source to extinguish an oven or broiler fire.
• When a fire alarm sounds, leave the building immediately.
• Do not use cell phones or text while evacuating, but carry them, along with car keys, wallets, purses and coats, in the event unable to return to the building for an extended time.
• Never use an elevator while evacuating. It could stall due to fire, smoke or power failure.
• Don’t return into building until approved by Public Safety representative.
• Identify location of nearest fire extinguishers, and ensure that at least one multi purpose extinguisher is on site in your residence.
• Know location of nearest fire extinguisher and fire alarm pull station if you reside in apartment complex, as well as at your workplace.
• If you smell smoke or see fire, call 911 and alert Public Safety and property management.
How to operate a fire extinguisher:
• Remember PASS
• P—Pull the pin out.
• A—Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.
• S—Squeeze the handle.
• S—Sweep from side to side.
These are just a few fire safety tips to remember in the event of a fire emergency. Stay safe.