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Making a Plan for Safety in Case of Fire Is an Essential for Every Parent

The Clarksville Fire Department fights a house fire
The Clarksville Fire Department fights a house fire

In only 60 seconds fire can engulf your home.

Think about it. You have one minute between safety and disaster in case of a major home fire.

Do your children know what to do? Do you have a plan for getting out? Is there a fire escape ladder in your child’s bedroom or your bedroom if they are on the second, third or fourth floor of your home? Do you have a fire extinguisher beside your kitchen stove? Have your children learned to “stop, drop and roll” in case their clothes catch on fire? Do you have smoke alarms throughout your home? Are the batteries working in your smoke alarms? Do your children know how to call 911 in case of fire or other real emergency?

You can buy a fire ladder for about $40 plus tax. Fire extinguishers and fire ladders are essentials for your child’s and your safety.

Parents are busy. Just earning a living takes a major portion of your time. Taking care of your children is also time-consuming. Buying groceries, paying bills, making sure everyone has supplies for the next day—the list goes on and on.

Putting off a talk about fire safety is one of those items that can just get lost in the shuffle—but it shouldn’t. Most people believe that it happens to other people, not them. The truth is a fire can occur in any dwelling.

In one year, fire departments respond to about 400,000 residential fires that claimed more than 3,100 lives, according to www.safety4kids.com. This web site has excellent information for parents on how to keep children safe.

At www.safety4kids.com/safety parents can view not only tips for fire safety but also for 17 aspects of safety for kids such as avoiding accidents in the home, backpack safety, fireworks safety, poison safety, outdoor safety, and many others.

Here in the United States, we already know that accidents are the number one cause of death among children ages 2 and above, and those under the age of 8 are more likely to sustain accidental injuries that result in death or disability, according to this web site. The United States has the lowest rate in 21 developed countries for child safety. Somehow we are just not doing our job when it comes to our kids because over 30 million of them have to go to the emergency room every year.

Another great safety web site is Sparky the Fire Dog because it features games, puzzles and information on fire safety that your family and you need to know.

Halloween costumes are another area of concern when it comes to fire. The label on the costume should state that it is fire resistant. If you are making the costume yourself, you should be sure that the materials you use are fire resistant as well. Remember that kids may encounter a pumpkin with a lit candle in it. In seconds, a costume can go up in flames. The U.S. Safety Commission reminds us that masks, beards, wigs and other accessories should also be flame resistant and should say so on the label.

Flame resistant does not mean that the item will not catch on fire. It indicates that the object will resist burning and should be able to extinguish quickly when removed from the fire source.

Costumes with baggy sleeves and billowing skirts are also hazardous. Consider the potential for fire before you choose any costume.

Prevention is the best approach to fire safety. Don’t put off today what may save a life tonight.

Fire Triangle

To understand how fire extinguishers work, you need to understand a little about fire. Fire is a very rapid chemical reaction between oxygen and a combustible material, which results in the release of heat, light, flames, and smoke.

Fire Triangle with the text oxygen, heat and fuel surrounding the fireFor fire to exist, the following four elements must be present at the same time:

  • Enough oxygen to sustain combustion,
  • Enough heat to raise the material to its ignition temperature,
  • Some sort of fuel or combustible material, and
  • The chemical reaction that is fire.

How a fire extinguisher works

Cutaway Diagram of Extinguisher indicating the inner tube, high pressure gas cannister, the dry chemical, carbon dioxide or water, and externally at the top of the extinguisher, the nozzle, pressure gauge, safety pin and handlePortable fire extinguishers apply an extinguishing agent that will either cool burning fuel, displace or remove oxygen, or stop the chemical reaction so a fire cannot continue to burn. When the handle of an extinguisher is compressed, agent is expelled out the nozzle. A fire extinguisher works much like a can of hair spray.

All portable fire extinguishers must be approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory to verify compliance with applicable standards [29 CFR 1910.157(c)(2)]. Equipment that passes the laboratory’s tests are labeled and given an alpha-numeric classification based on the type and size of fire it will extinguish.

Extinguisher Label expanded in a circle in front of the  extinguisher including the text, Underwriter's Laboratories and the UL  logo, listed, dry chemical fire extinguisher, classification 1-A:10-BCLet’s take a look at the label pictured. The classification is:


The letters (A, B, and C) represent the type(s) of fire for which the extinguisher has been approved.

The number in front of the A rating indicates how much water the extinguisher is equal to and represents 1.25 gallons of water for every unit of one. For example, a 4-A rated extinguisher would be equal to five (4 x 1.25) gallons of water.

The number in front of the B rating represents the area in square feet of a class B fire that a non-expert user should be able to extinguish. Using the above example, a non-expert user should be able to put out a flammable liquid fire that is as large as 10 square feet.

Editor’s Note: Some information from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (O.S.H.A) Web site

Sue Freeman Culverhouse
Sue Freeman Culverhousehttp://culverhouseart.com/
Author of Tennessee Literary Luminaries: From Cormac McCarthy to Robert Penn Warren (The History Press, 2013) Sue Freeman Culverhouse has been a freelance writer for the past 36 years. Beginning in 1976, she published magazines articles in Americana, Historic Preservation, American Horticulturist, Flower and Garden, The Albemarle Magazine, and many others. Sue is the winner of two Virginia Press Awards in writing. She moved to Springfield, Tennessee in 2003 with her sculptor husband, Bill a retired attorney. Sue has one daughter,  Susan Leigh Miller who teaches poetry and creative writing at Rutgers University. Sue teaches music and writing at Watauga Elementary School in Ridgetop, Tennessee to approximately 500 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. She also publishes a literary magazine each year; all work in the magazine is written and illustrated by the students. Sue writes "Uncommon Sense," a column in the Robertson County Times, which also appears on Clarksville Online. She is the author of "Seven keys to a sucessful life", which is  available on amazon.com and pubishamerica.com; this is a self-help book for all ages.

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