The worst disaster in recent times is not lava rolling downhill, or floodwaters carrying homes downstream, or hurricanes wiping out a town. The disaster of greater significance… is the home fire. “Fires kill more Americans each year than all natural disasters combined” reports the American Red Cross which responded to more than sixty-nine thousand fire related disasters last year.
Last week Oregon Red Cross responded to six home fires in the Portland Metro area. Free of charge humanitarian assistance was provided to 13 adults, 16 children and four pets, including immediate lodging, food, clothing, comfort kits, and information on health and mental health services. One child required special needs accommodations.
In many cases fires, and related injury and death, could be prevented. While cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires, followed by heating fires, smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths.
Three quarter of home fire deaths occur where there are no working smoke alarms. Building codes require a smoke alarm in each bedroom and one outside bedrooms on each level. Carbon monoxide alarms are also required in residences with a source of ignition (e.g. gas water heater, oil furnace, fireplace…).
Being prepared does not require a lot of time or money. Have each family members be aware of how they can escape from each room. Keep flammables away from sources of ignition. Be sure alarms are operating. In case of fire, get out immediately and call 9-1-1.