Friday, December 31, 2010

House Fires

The week after Christmas, we went to watch the fire department, which H is a member of, burn an old house. They do it for practice. The children really enjoyed it. I thought it was interesting but quite scary. It will certainly make you think about your own home. This particular house was very old, and older houses do generally burn faster, but the speed and ferocity with which this fire spread was very upsetting. H has been on the fire department for four or five years now. There have been a decent number, too many, of homes completely lost. Several people in our area have perished in fires, including children.
Here are several things I've learned since H joined the fire department. First off, most house fires start with the clothes dryer. I never run our washing machine, dryer, or dish washer once I go to bed. In fact, I make sure their cycle will finish before the time I want to be in bed; otherwise I wait until the morning to start it. And, I try not to run the clothes dryer if no one is home. I don't always stick to this, but I try to do it as little as possible.

Another thing that is good to know. Have a hammer or ax hidden outside your children's windows. That way if you can't get to them through the house, you can still get to them. If you have bedrooms on a second story or your windows are high off the ground, you also need to have a ladder outside so you can get up to bedroom windows. You can find rope ladders for sale that would facilitate a second story escape, but you still need a way to get up from the outside if you need to.

Another thing I've learned is why you don't ever put water on a grease or oil fire. Everyone knows not to do that, but sometimes I think it is interesting and even helpful to know why. This is how I understand the why: If you were to throw water on an oil fire, the water would sink to the bottom of the oil, stuck there. Once the temperature increases enough, the water basically gets so hot it explodes out of the oil, thus spraying all the hot oil and water everywhere. Very scary.
Finally, we have just introduced the beginnings of a fire plan to our children. We have told them if the fire alarm goes off at night, they need to sit under their bedroom window and we will come get them. We will add to this as they process. The next thing we will add is for them to shut their door and then sit under their window. But, we didn't want to overwhelm them.

I hope this has helped and given you some things to think about. Fires are very scary for parents to think of, but to have a plan and for parents to be on the same page does give peace of mind. Here's hoping none of us every has to deal with a house fire.

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