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We've all seen and heard the fire engine roaring through the intersection, on the way to an emergency. We take it for granted, that someone will always be willing to sacrifice themselves to save the people and things that are important to us. There are things that we do every day in our homes and at our places of employment that further endanger the men and women that have taken it upon themselves to ensure our safety. Until I married a firefighter, I didn't really pay attention to all the hazards we create in our home.
Let's put things in perspective first. The average American city has two firefighters for every one thousand people. That means two firefighters have taken full responsibility for one thousand people that he will more than likely never meet. While they are on duty, they will repair hoses and work on the apparatus in their fire station, cook for the house, go grocery shopping, do laundry, worry about everyday life stressors and drop everything they are doing, no matter how important it is to them and come to your aid without thought about their own personal safety. We can do some things to make life a little easier for our first responders and make it much safer too!
Weapons and Ammunition
If your house is like mine, you have guns and ammunition. You store them in your dresser drawer or under the couch cushions, after all, everyone that lives there is responsible with a firearm, right? What happens when heat meets ammunition? That's right folks! Projectiles in the form of hot lead fly across the room and if that firefighter happens to be in its path, then he has a fire blazing around him, 70 pounds of equipment on his back and a fresh hole in his chest. Purchasing a fire proof gun and ammunition safe is the best option for the safety of your family and our firefighters.
In the Pantry
The items you keep in your food pantry can be hazardous to your family in case of a fire. In terms of fire, what is the most dangerous aisle in the grocery store? If you guessed the household cleaning products or automotive oil, you are wrong. The aisle that will cause an instant inferno is the potato chip aisle! That's right! Potato chips! Potato chips are full of oil, and the packaging material lends itself to extremely hot temperatures and will essentially turn your bag of potato chips in to a bomb, sending flaming shrapnel throughout the area. This not only causes a kitchen fire to spread faster. It can cause significant burns to the firefighter that may be working in the area.
Dry cereal, paper products and, of course, aerosol cans and household cleaners all pose extra risk for your family and our heroes. Storing your household cleaners in the laundry room, under the kitchen sink or in the bathroom is common, and that's where firefighters expect to find those things. As a result, extra precautions are taken in those areas. Storing those items in an uncommon area or storing several items in different rooms or places can be catastrophic to your home and belongings, but more importantly to the first responders. Using a metal cabinet with locking doors, stored in the laundry room or garage is the best and safest option.
Staging Your Home
Everyone wants to be original, and nothing says "you" more than your home décor and staging. Where you place your furniture in your home is hardly more than what your personal preferences are and little to no thought is put in to the "what-ifs" when arranging your home and placing your furniture.
Imagine being in a completely black room that you have never been in before. Fire is raging around you, and the smoke is so thick it feels like a hot blanket over your body. You have to feel your way from room to room, searching until you find the child that the people outside swore was in there. You are breathing through the mask on your face that's attached to the tank of oxygen on your back. 70 pounds of equipment is on your body, and you are hot. Sweat runs into your eyes and you can't do anything about it because your eyes are under the mask that supplies your oxygen. The only real way to search is to feel your way along, using common landmarks to help find your way in the complete darkness and chaos that a house fire brings. When you place your furniture cattywampus to the wall, it not only confuses the search, it creates another room the firefighters now need to search because that's what children often do, hide behind furniture in a false sense of security.
In the late 70s or early 80s, everyone we knew had stickers in the windows of their homes to indicate a child was present in that particular bedroom. Two stickers indicated two children and so on. There were also stickers for your pets that gave firefighters a heads up just by glancing at the corner of a window how many people and pets were inside. It also saved a ton of time because the firefighters didn't have to guess where the bedrooms were, they were clearly marked from the outside. You may never have a need for those stickers to be cluttering your window, but there is a chance that you will and every second will be precious.
You can still find those stickers here, and it's my suggestion that you purchase and use them...
These are our heroes. The men and women who have taken it upon themselves to serve us, the general public and fellow Americans. Help make their jobs easier and keep your family safer by taking just a few extra precautions. The firefighters will thank you. Their families will thank you and if you ever need them, you will be grateful you've helped shave precious seconds off the rescue of your loved one.