Fire Safety Lessons For The Family

Stamford volunteer firefighter and Patch blogger Stephen Gladstone explains the best ways to prevent a home fire.

With the recent fire in Stamford still in the headlines, we offer our prayers for the family that perished and hope that the survivors and brave firefighters that were hurt will recover quickly. We would like to offer some sage advice to those willing to read these important fire preventative messages.

If you were too busy to change batteries in the smoke alarms during our last clock change.. why not take a moment and do that now.  Most newer model smoke alarms take either 9 volt or AA batteries. These are easily purchased at hardware, super market or big box stores.

If your smoke alarm is older than 10 years, or has an odd battery in it, chances are it's time to replace it anyway. Go buy some new ones and replace them with fresh batteries.

Changing out Carbon monoxide alarms that are older than 5 years is a little known requirement as well. Every Carbon monoxide alarm has a date of manufacture stamped on it. Check your date. Older Carbon monoxide alarms have sensors in them that will degrade over time and no longer be able to protect you. Every 5 years replace them.

Please check your Fire Extinguishers… if they are older than 12 years it’s time to demonstrate how they work to a child before you throw them away. Most small fire extinguishers are disposable now, and not refillable.

Older extinquishers may have lost their charge or become un-usable.

We are hopeful that should you ever need to use an extinguisher you will know where they are stored.  Do you know where the fire extinguishers are in your home?  Could you get to it if you needed it, and most importantly, would you know how to use it if there was a fire?

 Remember call 911 first, get everyone out of the home and then and only then, should you even consider fighting a small fire. 

If the air is bad in the home and smokey, stay outside and wait for the fire department.  Don't risk your life for possessions.

If you have the extinguisher and the fire is still small remember… P.A.S.S. 

Pull the pin.  

Aim at the base of the fire.  

Squeeze the trigger.  

Sweep from side to side.

If you have already purchased a new fire extinguisher and are ready to dispose of the old one… use the old one to allow someone who has never shot one off to try it. Aim it into a garbage can and teach your family how to safely operate one. Knowledge will keep you safer in a fire situation. 

Other safety tips to remember:

Don't place extension cords under carpeting.  Hot wires can set carpet on fire.

Don't overdo the number of appliances plugged into an outlet.

Surge protectors can be overloaded and overheat as well.

Don't ever put a larger fuse in an old fusebox where a smalled amp unit was. Wires will overheat and melt the insulation on the wires.

Don't run extension wires near ovens, electric heaters and fireplaces.

Watch all combustibles close to fireplaces, electric heaters, electric baseboard radiators, saunas and heating equipment.

When a fireplace fire is done, shovel embers and ash into a metal can, wet the embers and then cover the embers. Take them outside to a safe location. Never leave them inside.

Teach children fire escape concepts that show them it's ok to get out and where to go. Practice fire drills.

Show them that hiding under beds and in closets can make it harder for firefighters to seach for them and find them. 

Make sure sleeping rooms have egress windows , fire ladders or escapes and drill with both children and adults who sleep in the house what to do if they wake up to a fire, or smoke condition.  Teach them what to do to get out quickly and safely.

While roofs are not often a safe place to hang out, It is a safer place to wait for rescue then in the smokey home. Show them where to wait if the situation requires it.

Smoke Alarms should be installed in every bedroom .  Central hallways on multifloor buildings as well.

Heat detectors in garages, attics, above heating systems and in kitchens.

Old antique fire extinguishers that have Carbon Tetrachloride in them should be properly disposed off as they can make you sick or kill you.

Keep a fire extinguisher in rooms where you cook, rooms with fireplaces and garages.

Feel the doorknob first before you open a door... if it is hot do not open the door look for alternative ways out.

Sleeping on third floor rooms, or in basements without a fire escape or second means of egress can cause those in the room to be trapped... consider alternatives.

Deadbolts keyed on both sides of a door can trap people who cannot unlock the door... doors should be easy to open from the inside to escape.

Stay low and try not to breathe hot smokey air.

If your clothing catches fire do not run; drop to the ground, cover your face with your hands and roll to smother the flames.

Once you are out of the home go to your rehearsed meeting place in front of the neighbors home and make sure your family knows you got out.

Fire and smoke situations are scary and require fast thinking... teaching your family and guests these important life saving tips and practicing them can make all the difference in a split second when things get bad.

For a video lesson in Fire Extinquisher use go to :


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Joseph V. Coppola January 10, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Mike, I'm not a SFRD firefighter. My comment is in support of my brothers that were there that dreadful night and put their lives aside to try to effect rescues. Nobody that department is trying to exploit what happened. That insinuation is preposterous and shows how little you know about these guys and what they have been through. I make this comment with deepest sympathy and heavy-heartedness for the Badger family and the enormity of their loss.
Mike January 10, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Yea ok... You guys always exploit incidents, it's all about money to you people.
Here we go January 11, 2012 at 05:46 AM
No it isn't mike, your just pissed that people are starting to see through YOUR plan that is all about money.
Mike January 11, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Why are you getting so upset????? Usually when people know they are wrong and full of it, they tend to make stuff up. You SFR guys do a great job of it!! Do you really think stamford residents will believe that you can staff every fire department for no additional cost?????????????? Come on man, only a fool would make such a statement. It's sad, a majority of SFR members are great, it's the few of you that ruin it for everyone. Collect your paycheck and go home, it's the taxpayers that have a voice here, not you.
Here we go January 12, 2012 at 07:59 AM
Actually, I'm not upset at all. Facts are facts. Why are the new hires in this volunteer plan being paid more than a downtown firefighter Mr " You guys are overpaid". And why are you guys selling this as a vollunteer fire dept when your hiring 50 something paid guys? The taxpayers have a right to know why you are lyeing to them about this being a volunteer plan when it isn't. It's a combination department. You need paid guys because you have failed as volunteers to answer 100% of your calls. Period. And the city has the stats to prove it. As for going home, No. I don't think so. And you should worry less about my paycheck ( which obviously you want for yourself and that is the real reason you want to hire 50 something new guys) and worry more about the 100% of calls you should be answering. And as for the few that ruin it for everyone? That would be you. In typical fashion, you and others that back this plan start crying like babies when we ask simple questions, which you still won't answer, because you can't. And people see that.


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