Fire Safety in Today's Environment

By Krista Nesbit, Publisher, Macaroni KID Lake Orion - Rochester Hills - Oxford March 9, 2024

Last week I attended a field trip to the fire station with my daughter's kindergarten class and I learned some important things that I thought I'd share with you. Yes, it is common knowledge that you should have a working fire alarm and carbon monoxide detector in each bedroom and on each level of your home. In a lot of cases, your local fire department will provide these detectors free of charge and some will even offer to come out to your home and install them for you! 

Close the Doors
Did you know you should sleep with your bedroom doors CLOSED? This was a big surprise to me! They showed us video from the Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI) that compared two bedrooms during a house fire. One bedroom had an open door, and the other had a closed door. The closed door room was much less affected by the fire and smoke damage and would give the occupants much more time to decide their plan of action. Bottom line - Close Before You Doze!

You can see that impactful video here: 

Plan of Action
Nobody creates new ideas in a time of an emergency. It is important you talk to your family and make a plan in case of a house fire. Most likely, the heavy smoke will make it near impossible to navigate through your home to find your typical exits. You may have to rely on windows as your exit strategy. If this is the case, plan a day and safely practice how you would get out. 

Captain BJ Stapp from the Oxford Fire Department says to "teach kids to shut their door and put towels or a blanket at the bottom of the door. If they can't get out using the window then open the window and push the screen out. Place a blanket or towel out of the window, then close the window as much as you can. Teach your kids not to hide and to make a lot of noise so the firefighters can find them and help them out. One of the first things I do when I arrive is a complete 360 on the exterior of the home. I look for hazards, fire spread, and at all the windows. A blanket, towel, sheet, stuffed animal, or anything hanging out a window lets me know someone is in the room and needs help." 

Some people have ladders installed and ready to go in each bedroom - these are fantastic but you and your children need to know how to use them before an emergency happens. Practice, practice, practice! Also, most fires happen at night, so if you can manage to practice in the dark, that's even better.

Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide is an odorless and silent killer. It is imperative that you have working carbon monoxide detectors in your home. If the alarm goes off and you think it's a mistake, it's probably not! Treat it like an emergency and get everyone out of the house then call 9-1-1. Do not air out your home. The fire response team will need to be able to figure out where the carbon monoxide is coming from in order to mitigate the problem. If you air out the house, they will have to close it up again to 'recreate the scene' in order to find out where the leak is coming from.

Chargers and Batteries
These days lithium-ion batteries charge almost all of our technology including computers, cell phones, e-scooters/bikes, and electric vehicles. US Fire Administrator Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell provided testimony to members of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Management and Technology about dangers associated with lithium-ion batteries. “Fire risk from these devices occurs when an ordinarily stable electromechanical system is destabilized and the batteries become damaged, used, stored or charged incorrectly... In fires where these devices are involved, there is often only 15 seconds from the first sign of smoke to thermal runaway and explosion, with windows blown out and fire burning in homes, apartments and businesses.” When you charge your items, please make sure they are on a hard surface - not on a bed, couch, blanket, etc. Also, always use the charger that came with the item you're charging.

Fire officials warn of lithium batteries after house fire - see the video here: 

Stay Informed
If you want to learn more, reach out to your local fire department. Prevention is key and they are always willing to help educate our community on how to best avoid emergencies. Also, fire stations are super cool! If you and your kids would like a tour, just ask! 

Lake Orion Fire Department (248) 391-0304 

Rochester Hills Fire Department (248) 656-4720

Rochester Fire Department (248) 651-4470

Oxford Fire Department (248) 858-4911