Not every hero wears a cape. Plan and practice your escape! Central Jackson County Fire Protection District (CJCFPD) would like to promote awareness of National Fire Prevention Week with this motto. The week of October 7th is centered around a campaign that works to educate everyone about the small but important actions that may be taken to keep themselves and those around them safe.
National Fire Protection Association statistics show that in 2017, U.S. fire departments responded to 357,000 home structure fires. These fires caused 2,630 fire deaths and 10,600 fire injuries. On average, seven people died in a fire in a home per day during 2012 to 2016.
“These numbers show that home fires continue to pose a significant threat to safety,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy. “In a typical home fire, you have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Escape planning and practice can help you make the most of the time you have, giving everyone enough time to get out.”
While NFPA and CJCFPD are focusing on home fires, these messages apply to virtually any location.
“Situational awareness is a skill people need to use wherever they go,” said Carli. “No matter where you are, look for available exits. If the alarm system sounds, take it seriously and exit the building immediately.”
CJCFPD Station Four on Southwest Eagles Parkway was one of the participating stations in the department’s open house on Sunday, October 6th. Residents of the community were invited to stations to meet firefighters, tour facilities, and seek advice for a home escape plan and fire prevention.
Valley News caught up with Derrick Llewellyn, Captain of Fire Prevention Division for CJCFPD to ask him some tips on fire prevention and safety for residents of Grain Valley to consider.
“Fall season is upon us. Fire pits are allowed in the City of Grain Valley. It must be contained in a commercial bought box or a brick structure without being openly burned in a yard. Wood (like what you would use in a fireplace) instead of lumber, grass, or leaves is what should be used and fire code states that the fire pits should be contained at least fifteen feet away from a structure,” Llewellyn said.
“Furnaces will start to be turned on in residences during this season. Everyone should have CO2 detector. Especially, if they have a gas appliance. We see an increase in calls during the fall once people start turning their furnaces on. The CO2 detector should be placed on the highest level of your house. CO2 floats a little bit more than air. We encourage residents to purchase one that is electric with a battery backup if possible. Placing the detector on the wall instead of the ceiling is the appropriate location due to the density of CO2.”
Other tips suggested in keeping your home and loved ones safe included not using extension cords or power strips with portable furnaces or heaters. They draw so much electricity that they may cause problems. Llewellyn suggested buying or using a portable heater that is UL certified (it should say so on the box and unit) if you choose to use one. They (a UL certified unit) come with an auto shutoff if they get to hot or tip over and they should be plugged directly into the wall outlet.
Changing your batteries in smoke detectors annually during fall daylight savings time is a good way to sync the coordination of your detectors and clocks. Most people get up on a ladder or stool to change the time on at least one clock where they live. Changing batteries in smoke detectors at the same time gives you peace of mind.
Valley News also asked Llewellyn what’s one thing that he wished people had empathy for when it comes to firefighters.
“That’s a good question. In my opinion, I would want our community to be aware that we are constantly having to learn new things regarding not only fire safety, but coordination with law enforcement and other agencies for various emergency scenarios that may arise as well. Professional development for us is ongoing and is ever changing in keeping pace with the world around us. We want to be as prepared as possible to best serve our community,” Llewellyn said.
To find out more about Fire Prevention Week programs and activities in Grain Valley, please contact CJCFPD at 816-229-2522 or online at www.cjcfpd.org.
For more general information about Fire Prevention Week and home escape planning, visit www.fpw.org
Captain Derrick Llewellyn and Firefighter Brandon Morris greet guests at the October 6th Open House event at CJCFPD Station Four on SW Eagles Parkway.
Photo credit: Valley News staff