Our avid Oregonian reader, Lise, pointed out another safety-related article to me today. This one was about apartment buildings in Portland that have not been inspected recently for fire safety (it’s an issue that the city is apparently now working on), and it got me thinking about the Together We Prepare Our Neighborhood outreach project. I remember when we were walking door-to-door handing out fire safety materials, and my feet were so tired from walking all day, we saw these huge apartment complexes. And, honestly, the first thing that came into my mind was “Argh, that’s a lot of doors to knock on.” But boy am I glad we did knock on those doors. Descriptions like this really remind me what fire can do to even those big concrete buildings that look indestructible…
Fire inspectors say that although fire rarely damages such structures, the bunkerlike construction allows smoke and heat to collect wherever the fire begins. When fleeing occupants leave a door open, the fire can spread to a common corridor, making it difficult for residents to escape or be rescued.
In 1988, for example, a daytime fire at the Portland Towers Apartments almost killed a firefighter who became lost and trapped. Four others went to the hospital.
This really gave me pause when I read it. I actually just moved into an older, concrete apartment building…and I haven’t yet made my new evacuation plan. And if I – known to many of my friends as Miss Preparedness – haven’t yet made a plan, I wonder how many of you haven’t either?
So now I’m going to ask all of you the same questions that we asked our neighbors when we knocked on their doors. (After all, we’re all neighbors in this global blogosphere, right?)
- Checked your smoke alarm battery?
- Made sure you have a fire extinguisher in a handy, visible place? (Like visible enough that if your mother-in-law was cooking dinner at your house and that pan of crispy bacon suddenly turned into a grease fire she would know exactly where to find it.)
- Learned (or re-learned) how to use your fire extinguisher?
- Planned (or reminded everyone of) your two evacuation routes from your home?
- Planned (or reminded everyone of) a place to meet up after everyone has evacuated?
[FYI: Speaking of grease fires, know your ABC’s. Different extinguishers work for different sorts of fires. The labels used to indicate this are A, B, C, and D. So be sure you’ve got the right kind of fire extinguisher to handle any type of flame. You should generally be in good shape with an ABC – unless you’re doing some sort of strange chemistry experiments at home.]