Imagine being jarred awake by the sound of your smoke alarm in the middle of the night with the strong smell of smoke seeping into your bedroom, do you have an escape plan?
September is National Preparedness Month and the E-T sat down with Lt. Gregg Schrumpf, Stephenville fire inspector, to talk about creating a plan, smoke detectors and other safety tips.
The first thing to do is make sure your smoke detectors are working. Have them inside every bedroom, change the batteries twice a year and replace the alarms themselves every 10 years.
“They sell them now where they link up together so if the one in the kitchen goes off, the ones in the bedrooms go off,” Schrumpf said. “Those types of smoke detectors can be purchased just like regular ones. The package will tell you if they’re linkable.”
Next, come up with an escape route, set an outdoor meeting place and practice your drills.
“This is something the whole family should do together because as an adult you don’t want to assume your kids know where to go out and then of course you need to have a meeting place outside. The neighbors house is a great place to go,” Schrumpf said. “Conduct your drills. Don’t just set a plan up and then not do it. Do it several times and get everybody use to it; repetition.”
Schrumpf also said it is now recommended that people sleep with their bedroom doors closed.
“Doors keep oxygen from getting to the fire and they also slow down the progression of the fire,” he said. “That is why they recommend putting smoke detectors outside each bedroom and inside each bedroom, because if a fire starts in your bedroom, then that smoke can’t get out to that hall smoke detector.”
But always test a door before opening it. If it’s cool, then it’s probably alright to open, if it’s warm, then you need to find another way out like a window.
“On a second floor we recommend having ladders in the bedrooms. They sell ladders at Ace and McCoys or any home building or hardware store. It sits in a little case,” Schrumpf said. “Some of them already have a wall attachment and some of them have hooks so you just put the hook over the windowsill, throw the ladder out and then climb down the ladder.”
If you do find yourself unable to get out of the house and fire fighters come inside, get their attention or call 911 and describe to the dispatcher where you are inside the home or building.
“If you can’t get to your way out, holler at us or throw something at us because it’s loud in there. You’re not going to hurt us,” Schrumpf said. “A lot of the bigger buildings in town we’ve all walked through. We do pre-fire plans, so we go through and take note of certain things, we draw plans and kind of sit there like football players do when they run a play. Our plays are putting fires out.”
Schrumpf said some causes of residential fires include cooking, having open flames like candles, fire places, electrical issues, dryers and accidental incidents like kids playing with matches or lighters.
Schrumpf says the community is always welcome to contact him at 254-918-1230 or Cody Derrick, fire marshal, at 254-918-1250, for additional information.