As “fire season” starts, residents are reminded to use best practices as they heat their home, while continuing to exercise fire prevention.
Closing a bedroom door before turning in for the night translates into a nearly 1,000-degree difference in temperature if a fire starts, according to York Area United Fire and Rescue Chief Matt Arnold.
Not only that, but a closed door creates a barrier that adds critical time, which could ultimately lead to surviving the fire, Arnold said.
On Nov. 5, YAUFR firefighters responded to a daytime fire in the 500 block of South Albemarle Street, Spring Garden Township. They found flames rolling out the front of a second-floor window. No one was home at the time, Arnold said.
Once the fire was knocked down, investigators spotted a closed door in the second-floor hallway. The fire left deep, charred marks on the outside of the door, while the door’s inside was nearly pristine.
Tips for surviving a fire
As the weather gets colder and “fire season” starts, the South Albemarle Street fire serves as a reminder to residents to use best practices as they heat their home, while continuing to exercise fire prevention, Arnold said.
And that includes closing doors.
“The fact that the door was closed lended itself to being a survivable area in that bedroom,” he said. “Had that happened in the middle of the night and there would’ve been someone in that room … they most definitely would not have been able to survive had they been in that room,” with the door open.
There was “nothing special” about the door, just a standard wood-paneled door, like you would find in any home, he said.
“Any solid door like most people have in their homes is going to provide you generally on average an hour of fire protection,” Arnold said.
Once residents find themselves on the inside of a fire, they can take other life-savings measures, including calling 911, stuffing towels or clothing under the door to mitigate smoke, and opening a window to call for help.
Smoke alarms also play a major role in prevention, in any season. After the South Albemarle Street fire, YAUFR firefighters used the event to speak with nearby residents and to offer smoke alarm installation for free.
“We canvassed the area,” Arnold said. “We did find three of four homes that did not have smoke alarms.”
The winter months are known as fire season to firefighters, because as temperatures drop, residents begin using supplemental or alternative heating methods. Any time that happens, there is a risk of starting a fire, Arnold said.
Tips for prevention
Here are some fire safety/winter heating tips:
— Keep all items — including furniture, clothing, food — at least three feet away from the heater.
— Plug the heater directly into a wall socket, never into an extension cord.
— Keep the heater on a flat surface to reduce the possibility of it tipping over. Most new heaters have a built-in tip sensor that triggers a shut-off if the device tips.
— Shut off the heater when not at home.
— Clean them on a regular basis, particularly before use after a long period of inactivity.
Carbon monoxide detectors:
— Have them installed in your home. CO is colorless, odorless and tasteless and can be produced by appliances as a byproduct of incomplete combustion.
— Should be installed in every room and also on every level of a home. Many smoke detectors also have a built-in CO detector installed.
“We like to say only a working smoke alarm will save a life,” Arnold said.
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