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Firefighters are REAL Superheroes

Firefighting Dog

In case you didn’t know, Safety is my middle name. Whether I am moonlighting as a superhero or saving the day as a fire fighting dog, I keep a busy schedule. This blogging thing is just a fun side gig I like to use to express myself.

The other night our dinner was punctuated by the sounds of sirens blaring and we heard heavy trucks barreling down our normally quiet street. We ran to see what it was, and lo and behold there were 3 fire trucks headed to a house just behind us. I was not called in to help but I supervised from my window for a few minutes. Thankfully everyone was okay and it ends up it was a chimney fire that was caught early enough but it reminded me of the importance of fire safety. I’m going to touch on a few topics, but I encourage you to do research too as this will not be comprehensive.

10-4, 10-24, we’re all clear here.

Whew, that hat gets a little heavy so I’m going to take a rest here while I talk fire safety. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the leading cause of fires in the U.S. is heating equipment, and though the most common time of day for these fires is from 4pm-8pm, almost half (48%) of deaths due to heating equipment occurred from midnight to 8 am. They recommend turning off all portable heaters before going to bed.

This is also why smoke detectors are so important, to alert you when there is a fire so you have time to get out. According to the NFPA: “Almost three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (40%) or no smoke alarms that were working (17%). So it isn’t enough to just have a smoke detector, the batteries have to be in it and working. A suggested rule of thumb is to change your batteries one time per year. Don’t wait for a chirp because if it fails to chirp for whatever reason and it isn’t working you might not know until it is too late. The thought of all this makes me very sad. Especially to think of pets not making it out with their humans.

According to the NFPA, approximately 500,000 pets are impacted by house fires each year and 1,000 fires are started accidentally by pets. The EFSI (Electrical Safety Foundation International) website has a handy fact sheet for pet owners- from their website (because I can’t say it any better than them):

Fire Prevention Tips:

  • Do not leave open flames – like candles, fireplaces or cooking appliances – unattended. Curious pets will investigate.
  • Use candles that contain a light bulb rather than open flame.
  • Remove the stove knobs or use knob covers when you are not home.
  • Do not use a glass water bowl on a wooden deck. The sun can heat the wood beneath the glass enough for it to ignite.

Safety Tips:

  • Keep collars on your pet at all times and store leashes in an easily accessible location in case firefighters need to rescue your pet.
  • Have your pets sleep near you or near your emergency exit during the night so that you can easily locate them if you need to escape to safety during a fire emergency.
  • When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.
  • Since pets left home alone will be unable to escape a fire by themselves, consider installing monitored smoke detectors which are connected to a monitoring center that will contact emergency responders even when you’re not home.
  • Attach a pet alert window cling to a window in the front of your home. Make sure to indicate the correct number and type of your pets.
  • Tell firefighters right away if there are pets trapped in your home. Do not go back inside once you are safely out.

My parents have an alarm system including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that are monitored by Front Point. Thankfully we haven’t needed them but it is nice peace of mind for them knowing the fire department would be called if the smoke detector sensed smoke and they were away from home (unfortunately they can’t take me with them everywhere they go).

Hmm…come to think of it, this mulch is made from wood, and wood burns….could this be a fire hazard?….I will have to look into this.

Did you know that your local fire department will train you on how to use a fire extinguisher? So not only are they a cool place for the small humans in your life to visit, but they also help you use these important safety devices. I lack the opposable thumbs to operate this but I’d like to go along to the fire house to audition as a fire dog. (As an aside, did you know that a fire dog is actually what that metal thing you put in a fire place to put your logs on? It is also known as an andiron. I learn something new every day!)

This moss where I sit is nice and soft, but I am still a little nervous about the subject matter.

Woodpiles, another source of fire but not a concern as it is stacked safely outside away from the house. You don’t want to put a bunch of wood right by your foundation as it will attract termites. There’s a lot I could say about safety with wood burning stoves and fireplaces in the house– one important thing is to make sure to keep your chimney cleaned and clear of creosote buildup which can cause a chimney fire and even a house fire if it ignites. A small amount of creosote is normal, but it is a buildup that can be a hazard, so adequate ventilation is necessary, as well as inspection of the internal mechanisms if you think your chimney isn’t working properly. Burning unseasoned wood can also cause a cooler environment in the chimney which leads to build up.  Having it swept once a year by a CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) certified chimney sweep is important and necessary maintenance. The chimney sweep will not only clean up any creosote build up, but they also should inspect the chimney for any potential problems.

The chimney fire behind us was likely caused by creosote build up. A family near us recently lost their home due to a chimney fire, thankfully they were out to dinner when it happened so no one died, and a neighbor got their pet dog out in time, but they still lost their home and belongings which is devastating.

Back to fire extinguishers- make sure you get training or are familiar with how one works in case a fire ever starts while you’re home and you need to use it. Also make sure you don’t have a recalled Kidde brand extinguisher on hand- here’s a listing so you can check here.

I mentioned smoke detectors earlier- these are SO important because you can’t be everywhere in your home at once (well I guess you could if you live in a one room home), but you do have to sleep sometimes too. I mentioned changing the batteries once a year, so I’m going to do a quick demonstration of this important process. See you take the detector down, and open the little flap thing where the battery goes. I am nervous just being around this thing because I get scared when they make any noise. Hang in there tough guy, you’re got this. Okay, I’m ready.

Put the battery in by following the directions (I had to have the humans help with this as I can’t read). Once the battery is in, close the flap and put it back up where you had it installed.

I think every fire fighting dog deserves a good belly rub for a job well done.

Remember, it isn’t possible to be comprehensive and cover every risk in this article but hopefully this has gotten you thinking about fire safety. Again, I encourage you to do your own research and be aware of your surroundings. Be safe out there, friends!

Sending love and puppy hugs,

Ralph.

 

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