On Christmas morning there was a devastating fire in Stamford, CT. Five members of a family perished in a house fire, three very young children and their grandparents. Their mother and her companion were the only survivors. This story is so tragic and our hearts go out to them. This story however is a warning and it is a call to action to prevent this type of needless tragedy from happening again. In this particular case the fire was started by ashes from a fire place being improperly disposed of, of a home that was being renovated and lived in without certificates of occupancy and a lack of fire detectors. The Stamford Fire Department has put together the sequence of events that is truly so sad, there was no plan of escape. We need to learn and prepare our own families so that they will know what to do if a fire breaks out.
The house in Stamford was over one hundred years old having been built in 1897. The homes in parts of New Orleans are even older than that.
- In 1977 1 in 5 homes were equipped with fire protectors and in that year 5,865 people died from home fires. In 2010 with greater use of fire alarms the number of deaths dropped to 2,640. 96% of homes have fire detectors but only 75% have working detectors with 25% faulty or with spent batteries.
- No smoke alarms were present in 40% of the home fire deaths.
- Only 25% of homeowners have a plan in place if there is a fire
According to the National Fire Protection Association there is a 50% better chance of surviving a fire with properly placed smoke detectors.
In the event of a fire, remember that every second counts, so you and your family must always be prepared. Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly.
Twice each year, practice your home fire escape plan. Some tips to consider when preparing this plan include:
- Find two ways to get out of each room.
- If the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need a second way out. A secondary route might be a window onto a neighboring roof or a collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows.
- Only purchase collapsible ladders evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
- Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be properly opened.
- Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
- Windows and doors with security bars must have quick release devices to allow them to be opened immediately in an emergency. Make sure everyone in the family understands and practices how to properly operate and open locked or barred doors and windows.
- Teach children not to hide from firefighters.
When buying a home consider calling your local Fire Department and asking them to do an inspection of your home for fire safety.