October 28, 2003
"The U.S. has one of the highest
fire death rates in the industrialized world....Each year, fire
kills more Americans than all natural disasters combined. At least
80 percent of all fire deaths occur in residences. Between 1992
and 2001, an average of 1.9 million fires were reported each year.
Many others go unreported, causing additional injuries and property
"Fire drills are a big part of
being safe in school: they prepare us for what we need to do in
case of a fire. But what if there was a fire where you live?
Would you know what to do if there was a fire in your home? Talking
about fires is scary - no one likes to think about people getting
hurt or their things getting burned. But you can feel less worried
if you are prepared."
We all know the drill at school, or
do we? Do you know where you would go if the fire alarm went off
at school? Do you know the fastest and easiest
way out of the building from all of your classes? What if that way
were blocked by fire or heavy smoke? Then where would you go?
"CHICAGO, Oct. 17 - Six people
died of injuries in a fire on Friday at a 35-story building in the
Loop in the heart of downtown. Several more were
taken to hospitals, many in serious or critical condition.....Fire
officials said 13 people were found in the building, some in smoke-filled
stairwells, after the fire was controlled. Some were conscious and
breathing, but others were not, officials said."
Do you work? Do you know two possible
ways out of that building in case of fire? What about at the mall?
At a club? Have you ever looked around to
see how you might get out in a hurry if there were an emergency?
What about at home? Do you know what the smoke alarm sounds like?
What would you do if you heard it? What if you didn't hear it?
"July 31 - Underwriters Laboratories
sets the standards for smoke alarms. It has just released a report
that agrees with what 7 On Your Side found
in our investigation - parents cannot rely on smoke alarms to wake
up their children. So what's the solution? Two months ago, we set up cameras in Heather and Ray's Salazar's
home after their nine and four-year-old daughters had fallen asleep.
We activated the family's smoke alarms, and waited for the girls
to wake up. They never did. The same thing happened at Lisa Killeen's
home in Fremont. Her three kids slept away, with four smoke alarms
"Rafael Pelayo M.D., Sleep Specialist:
'Oh, it's not surprising because we know the level of sound required
to wake up a sleeping child can be very
high, higher than what a typical smoke alarm is.' The typical smoke
alarm puts out 85 decibels. Doctor Pelayo says it takes at least
110 decibels to wake up a sleeping child. But Underwriters Laboratories,
the group that sets the standards for smoke alarms, had never tested
them on children. Just today, the group acknowledged, parents can't
always count on them.... Underwriters Laboratories has no idea when
further research will be complete. But you should still continue
to use smoke alarms. They do save lives. Research shows they've
reduced the number of fire deaths by half."
Would your smoke alarm wake you if you
were sleeping? Would your parents--or those you live with who might
be lighter sleepers--know to check that you were awake and getting
What about the smoke alarm itself? Even
the lightest sleepers won't be awakened by an alarm that does not
"WASHINGTON D.C. - The Department
of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
is urging all residents to replace their smoke alarm batteries and
check their units on Oct. 26, when clocks are turned back to end
Daylight Savings Time. Taking part of the "extra hour"
to do so can have lifesaving consequences. 'In many of the house
fires where lives are lost, an operating smoke alarm could have
made a difference. A smoke alarm reduces the risk of dying in a
house fire by 50 percent,'
said Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for
Emergency Preparedness and Response. 'We urge people not to think "it
won't happen to them" and to take the easy and inexpensive
steps necessary to safeguard themselves and their families.' Some 2,700 people
lost their lives in residential fires in 2002 and another 14,000 were injured. FEMA
offers these additional fire safety tips..."
While many fires are accidental, others
could be prevented. Candles? Campfires? Cigarettes? Matches? Lighters?
"Every year, children start nearly 100,000 fires that hurt
people and cause a lot of damage."
With current dry conditions in much
of the West, we now have a tragic example of what happens when fires
get out of control.
"LOS ANGELES, Oct. 27 - With fires
racing uncontrollably across much of Southern California, firefighters
on the northwestern edge of Los Angeles
staged a desperate effort on Monday to defend the city and the coastal
community of Malibu from the deadly rush of flames...."
More fire information for teens and
More fire information for kids:
"USFA stands for the United States Fire Administration. The
USFA is part of the federal government. One of our jobs is to help
prevent fires. We want everyone to be safe from fire, including
you! The Kids Page is full of tips that can help you and your family
be safe from fire...."
Questions of the Week:
What do you need to know to be safe from fires indoors and out?
What are the most common causes of fires? What can you do to help
prevent fires in your home, school, work, and outdoor environment? Think of the different
buildings you are in throughout the week. Would you recognize the
fire alarm if you heard it? Would you hear it? How would you get
out of each place safely in the event of a fire?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum