Learning from Tragedy: Maintain a Fire Safety Kit

Prison FireThe devastating scenes and stories emerging in the aftermath of a fire that ripped through an overcrowded prison in Honduras will bring attention to many social and political concerns regarding prison conditions for some time. Other implications highlighted by this tragedy – with an arguably broader relevance – are the need for proper preparations in times of emergency. Specifically, this disaster highlights fire risk and demonstrates the need for fire safety.

A fire safety plan should be utilized by homes, offices and public places. We all remember fire drills from our school days. Practicing and preparing for emergency situations is not something we should graduate from. Evacuation plans, and fire safety kits including first aid supplies should be part of every fire safety plan. Smoke inhalation is a primary concern in a fire, so store a fire escape mask in your office and in each bedroom of your home to minimize this risk.

It’s practical to stash an emergency kit in a shed or vehicle, outside of your home, with first aid supplies, and other practical survival items such as a warm blanket. Plan ahead and have the necessary tools on hand like a multi-purpose fire extinguisher in places such as your laundry room, kitchen, garage, and vehicle to extinguish small fires before they get out of control. Always evacuate a location and promptly contact your local fire department if fire is beyond immediate containment. If anyone has suffered injuries, think quickly to locate your emergency first aid kit, but never re-enter a burning structure.

Many events including car accidents and natural disasters increase the chances for fires to erupt. For example, spilled gas from broken gas lines in an auto accident can exacerbate the risk in an already dangerous situation. Inexperienced homeowners running a generator following a power outage may increase fire risk. Elevated fire risk follows earthquakes, dry weather, electrical storms, and other natural disasters. Regarding all emergency situations, it is best to prepare ahead and maintain a well-stocked emergency supply kit.