The Chief’s Corner

By Robert W. Seltzer, BSEE, EFO, MPA Chief Smithfield Fire Dept.

The Smithfield Fire Department does more than respond to incidence of fire. In fact, the majority of what we do is respond to medical emergencies and traumatic injury incidents.

Since we have become an “all hazards” response agency, we want you to be aware of these “hazards” that may occur and how to avoid them, or minimize their impact on your day-to-day lives.

Starting this month, I will start by discussing fire prevention tips and injury prevention tips by age group. In the following months we will continue the discussion by age group, but will include other hazards besides fire and injury prevention.

This month’s column targets the older adult population and caretakers of older adults, discussing fire prevention safety messages.

Fire Message #1: If you smoke, smoke outside

Use deep, sturdy ashtrays.
Wet cigarette butts and ashes before throwing them out.
Never smoke in bed.
Never smoke if medical oxygen is used in the home.

Fire Message #2: Give space heaters space.

Keep heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn – including you.
Shut off and unplug heaters when you leave or go to bed.

Fire Message #3: Stay in the kitchen when frying food.

Never leave cooking unattended.
Wear short or form-fitting sleeves when cooking.
Use oven mitts to handle hot pans.
If a pan of food catches fire, slide a lid over it and turn off the burner.
Don’t cook if you are drowsy from alcohol or medication.

Fire Message #4: Stop, Drop, & Roll.

If your clothes catch on fire: Stop (don’t run), Drop gently to the ground, and cover your face with your hands.
Roll over and over or back and forth to put out the fire.
Use cool water for 3 to 5 minutes to cool a burn.
Get medical help right away.

Fire Message #5: Smoke alarms save lives.

Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, in each bedroom, and outside each sleeping area.
Interconnected alarms are the best option. When one sounds they all sound.
Make sure everyone can hear the smoke alarms.
Have someone test your smoke alarms once a month.

Fire Message #6: Plan and practice your escape from fire.

If possible, know two ways out of every room in your home and two ways out of the home.
Make sure windows and doors open easily.
If the alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside.

Fire Message #7: Know your local emergency number.

Dial 9-1-1 in an emergency.
Once you have escaped a fire, call the fire department from a neighbor’s phone or a mobile phone.

Fire Message #8: Plan your escape around your abilities.

Have a telephone in your bedroom in case you are trapped by smoke or fire.
Have other necessary items near your bed, such as a list of medications, glasses, walker, scooter, or cane.

Next month I will discuss fall prevention for the older population.