Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Nightclub Fire in Brazil Can Teach us Lessons on Fire Safety

With the Santa Maria nightclub fire all over the news (233 dead), any firefighter will remind you of a pretty tragic fact: the United States has one of the highest rates of fire-related death in the world. Indeed, smoke inhalation is the leading cause of death in the American household today.

Brazil is not a paragon of efficient public safety regulations, with rampant bus and trolley accidents and manhole explosions being regular occurrences. Today in the U.S., every state in the union has its own Department of Public Safety. If you’re in California, for example, there is a Coalition for Effective Public Safety (CEPS) you can join but often, lots of regulations and regulators just don’t work – and some even make things worse.

Governments often publish fire safety checklists. The Consumer Product Safety Commission had this to say about sources of fire.

Main Sources of Fire Hazard:
· Cooking Equipment
· Upholstered Furniture
· Mattresses and Bedding
· Personal Apparel
· Supplemental Home Heating Equipment (wood stoves, kerosene heaters, gas-fired space heaters, portable electric heaters)

But none of those compare to the No. 1 cause of fires in the country: cigarettes. (What an incentive to finally quit.)

There is a lot you can do (besides quitting smoking) to prevent fires. The following is a list of equipment and methods to use. It might cost you something, but sometimes you can get hold of a big bunch of coupons to cut down on the price tag. Big stores like Sears and Home Depot carry this stuff.

Smoke detectors
They should be located and battery-loaded on every level of the house, even every room. They should be checked regularly and installed about 6-12 inches below the ceiling on the wall.
Flammable Liquid Storage
Keep them away from heaters and electronics, in a plastic (not wood) storage rack outside of the house and outside of the reach of your kids.
Fire Extinguishers
No house is safe without one. I am sure you can find a Sears coupon or something for one of these bad boys, because they might be expensive. Keep one in the kitchen, garage, workspace, and one upstairs too.
Escape Plan
These plans need to be designed and rehearsed regularly. Establish a main fire route, and also an alternative route. What about your youngest? Make sure s/he is part of the discussion and rehearsal too, even if they don’t know how to walk or speak yet.

In other countries like Japan they go to great lengths to practice fire routes and general safety regulations. Schools might spend an entire week on public hazards and escape routes and on Friday, for the grand finale, they will have the fire department send a rescue helicopter to practice emergency landing on the roof of a middle or high school. That’s certainly proved an efficient (if extreme) way to go. And it’s why Japan’s fire deaths are some of the lowest in the world.

*This is a sponsored post written for Woven by Words


Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

I've got smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, but need to go over an escape plan with my children.

I lived nearby when a nightclub fire in the north east made national attention a few years ago. I think I was pregnant with The Girl. Waking up to Good Morning America and seeing a neighboring town on national news for such a tragedy is surreal.

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Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.