It’s important to prepare, plan and practice fire safety drills at home and work.
Fires in the home are reported every 93 seconds in the United States. That’s why it’s vital to create and practice a plan to leave your home safely in case of an emergency.
“As the temperatures continue to get cooler, we can expect to see a rise in structural fires as people use heating units to warm their homes,” said Andrew Bright, D.O., assistant professor of surgery at the Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine at the University of South Alabama and trauma/burn surgeon at USA Health.
One of the dangers of a structural fire, Bright said, is loss of lights for navigation, since electrical outlets are comprised. In these situations, victims often succumb to smoke inhalation, cyanide poisoning and thermal injuries.
“Even for those with significant exposure who do make it to the hospital, mortality still remains high,” he added. “This was demonstrated in the tragic nightclub fire in 2003 at The Station, which cost 100 lives due to rapid spread, confusion and darkness.”
Fortunately, most home and structural fires are preventable. But if you do find yourself in this situation, Bright, along with the USA Health Burn Team, urges everyone to remember “prepare, plan and practice.”
- Prepare and test smoke alarms and sprinkler systems. Most structural fires occur in the evening or night when people are sleeping. Test batteries, so the alarm isn’t asleep, too.
- Avoid overloading electrical outlets.
- Avoid flammables, such as cigarettes, and always be safe with accelerants.
- Have a fire extinguisher and a flashlight ready to go.
- Plan. Know the locations of exits, fire extinguishers, and a designated meeting location away from your home. Most people do not have a fire plan for their home.
- Practice. Family, roommates, etc. should do a walk-through practice at least once a year. Doing so helps to develop the critical "muscle memory."