By Raven Carthon and Rachel Walker
When starting off the New Year, it is crucial to know what to do in the event of a fire. Here are seven steps to keep you and your loved ones safe this coming year.
- Install, count, and check the number of fire alarms in your home.
For maximum safety, a home should have fire alarms set on every story. On these levels, there should be at least one alarm outside of every bedroom or sleeping area. Having these alarms ensures that every room can hear the alarm and a person occupying it can leave if necessary.
- Make sure everyone in the household is aware of the sound the alarm makes.
While this may be silly, the sound of these alarms could be mistaken for something else. It is important, especially in small children, to identify the cause of the sound and why the fire alarm is making that sound. In establishing this with young children and family members, they are able to identify the danger of a fire with ease.
- Ensure that all household members have at least two ways to escape.
This is one of the most vital parts of maintaining fire safety. In order to increase preparedness, all household members should have a clear exit in the case of a fire depending on the room that they inhabit. This could come in the form of a window, a different door, or a bathroom. Just one is not enough, in case this exit is covered in flames then one must have a backup in order to successfully escape.
- Create a family emergency and contact plan.
Make sure that everyone in the household is aware of the plan once they have evacuated the house. It is important to have a contact plan, so the household has a fallback in the case the fire is not put out immediately.
- Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year.
At least twice a year, you and the members of your household should practice your evacuation plan. The RedCross recommends holding down your fire alarm to recreate the noise that would occur in the event of a fire. From there, evacuate your home just like you would in the event of a real fire. It’s important to take this seriously in case of a real fire, so you know exactly what to do.
- Contact 9-1-1 and your parents or guardians.
In the event of an emergency you or a member of your household should call 9-1-1 immediately. Make sure everyone in your house is aware and has access to the phones in your home. One way to call 9-1-1 on your cellphone is to click your power button five times which will automatically dial 9-1-1. Another simple way is to hold your power button and volume button (as if you were going to power it off) and swipe on the button that says “SOS, Emergency Call.” Once you exit your home, then call your parents or guardians if they aren’t present.
- Place a “Pet Alert” sticker somewhere on the outside of your house.
Adding a sticker in a visible place on the front of your house will alert others of the pet(s) that may reside in your home. This way, in the event of an emergency, your pet is not forgotten. You can purchase a sticker on Amazon or check your local department for one as well. Simply check off what kind of pet you have and place it on a front window in your house.
Continually, we were fortunate enough to be able to visit the Sunnyoaks Fire Station for a tour and some insight into the profession of being a firefighter. We were quickly informed that the term “fireman” is no longer used; instead, “firefighter” is used in order to promote a more diverse force. On the tour, we were shown their specialty vehicles and educated on the different purposes for each vehicle, including Type 6, which go onto wildlands, rescue vehicles that have specialized equipment, and much more. We even got to take a picture on one of their super cool rigs! One of the most important things we asked the firefighters was if there was something specific that made them want to become a firefighter. Once asked, we were often met with awkward glances as they did not know how to respond to such a loaded question. But once allowed to think for a while, most replied with their deep desire to help people and their community, a very admirable trait, and the camaraderie that came with the job. An interesting perspective we heard was from Dave Sosine, describing that his love for his job sparked as early as participating in electives offered at his school that prepared students for the firefighting profession. Although the job of being a firefighter is one that is idealized, there are many challenges that come with the profession. Furthermore, we learned a very requirement for all units was to have at least one firefighter with ALS: advanced life support, and skills. These firefighters are trained to provide life-saving interventions such as shocks to the heart and IV placement, to name a few. At Sunnyoaks, the medic on site was Shawn, who was previously an EMT.
We talked with several of the firefighters, and one challenge persisted: the hours. Many nights are spent at the station waiting for an emergency, which can be tough for those with young families. During the fire season, they can spend up to 21 days out on the job, with no time to see their loved ones. The season can cause high tensions for the firefighters as they deal with the exhaustion and fatigue of always being on call. Their hard work and dedication is highly admirable, and we are so thankful to have such spirited firefighters looking out for the community. We finished off our trip by asking the fire chief if he had any advice for seniors making their transition into the adult world, to which he responded with, “There are so many things to do, so I would start with narrowing down what you don’t want to do, that’s what I did.” Although simple advice, it reads true. We are so thankful to have been able to visit the fire station and hope to continue learning and educating about the importance of fire safety. If you are interested in learning more about the department or becoming a firefighter yourself, be sure to check out class through SVCTE and check out the Santa Clara fire department instagram @santaclara_fd.