While we bid farewell to Fire Safety Month this past October, the advent of November and December festivities reminds us to remain vigilant and prepared.
Fires have significantly impacted families in Miami-Dade County. Incidents include an electrical fire at a condominium complex, an apartment fire that displaced nearly 200 residents, and a three-alarm fire in Miami Gardens, displacing 105 residents. These instances underscore the need for fire safety measures and preparedness, especially in densely populated areas.
Did you know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates two types of inspections for our fire extinguishers to ensure they are in optimal working condition? And do you keep one at home?
According to the U.S. Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Association, more than one-quarter (25.4%) of reported fires in the United States between 2016 and 2020 occurred in residential structures source. Even more concerning is that these home fires accounted for a staggering three-quarters (75%) of all civilian fire deaths during this period, as per the data from the NFPA source.
While these figures are national, they provide a valuable context for understanding the potential impact of fires on families in Miami-Dade County. As one of the most densely populated areas in the United States, Miami-Dade is not immune to the devastating effects of fires.
What are some things we can do?
Monthly Fire-Extinguishers Visual Inspections
We must visually inspect our fire extinguishers monthly to confirm they are ready for use. The inspection involves verifying that the pin is securely in place ensuring the extinguisher is not obstructed or has been discharged previously. These inspections can be carried out by anyone responsible for the area where the extinguisher is located.
Annual Fire-Extinguishers Inspections
In addition to monthly checks, fire extinguishers also require an annual inspection. However, unlike the monthly visual inspections, an approved contractor must conduct these yearly checks. These inspections are more thorough and involve checking parts like the extinguisher’s hose, gauge, and overall functionality.
However, as stated before, understanding how to operate a fire extinguisher correctly is equally crucial in protecting your loved ones and property. In case of a fire, remember always to fight the fire with your back towards an escape route. This positioning provides a safe exit if the fire becomes too intense or uncontrollable.
Furthermore, what about the possibility of a fire starting in a location with no fire extinguisher nearby? Have you considered the need for additional fire safety measures beyond just having fire extinguishers on hand?
Here are some additional measures that can be taken:
- Smoke Alarms: Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms, and outside sleeping areas. Test them every month and replace the batteries annually.
- Escape Plan: Create a home escape plan and practice it regularly. The plan should include two exits from every room in the house – usually a door and a window.
- Fire-Resistant Materials: Use fire-resistant materials in home construction, renovation, and decorating whenever possible. This can help slow the spread of a fire, giving everyone more time to evacuate.
- Fire Safety Education: Ensure all family members understand what to do in a fire. Teach them to stop, drop, and roll if their clothes catch fire and not to open doors that are warm to the touch.
- Keep Exits Clear: Keep doors and windows clear of obstructions to ensure they can be used to escape during a fire.
- Safe Cooking Practices: Never leave cooking unattended, keep flammable materials away from the stove, and turn pot handles inward to prevent accidents.
- Regular Inspection of Electrical Equipment: Faulty wiring and malfunctioning electrical equipment are common causes of fires. Regularly inspect your home for potential issues.
- Fire Ladders: For multi-story buildings, consider having fire ladders that can be attached to windows for a quick escape.
- Fire Sprinkler System: If possible, install a residential fire sprinkler system. These can extinguish a fire before the fire department even arrives.
- Avoid Overloading Electrical Outlets: Plugging too many electrical appliances into one outlet can cause overheating and start a fire.
Remember, the best way to protect yourself and your family is to prevent fires before they start.
Lastly, we cannot stress enough the importance of regular safety talks and practicing your emergency action plans, including familiarizing yourself with exit routes. These measures can prove vital in ensuring an adequate and safe response during any type of emergency.
Let’s all take a moment this October to review our fire safety knowledge and practices. After all, being prepared is the first step toward ensuring our safety.
Stay safe, everyone!
Miami-Dade County. (n.d.). Fire Safety & Prevention. Retrieved October 20, 2023, from https://www.miamidade.gov/global/fire/fire-prevention-safety.page
Miami-Dade County. (n.d.). Fire Rescue. Retrieved October 20, 2023, from https://www.miamidade.gov/global/fire/home.page
Miami-Dade County. (n.d.). Fire and Life Safety Programs. Retrieved October 20, 2023, from https://www.miamidade.gov/global/service.page?Mduid_service=ser1632949586364731
Miami-Dade County. (n.d.). fire-prevention-evacuation-guidelines.pdf. Retrieved October 20, 2023, from https://www.miamidade.gov/fire/library/fire-prevention-evacuation-guidelines.pdf
U.S. Fire Administration. (n.d.). Statistics. Retrieved October 20, 2023, from https://www.usfa.fema.gov/statistics/
National Fire Protection Association. (n.d.). Fire-loss in the United States. Retrieved October 20, 2023, from http://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Data-research-and-tools/US-Fire-Problem/Fire-loss-in-the-United-States
Fire response and instructions | SUU. https://www.suu.edu/ad/em/fire.html
Home – A Plus Fire and Safety. http://www.aplusfns.com