Housing Services: Preventing Fires, Protecting Our Families
On Monday, July 17, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Housing Services held its monthly Fire and Safety Prevention workshop to review important fire-prevention topics, which included Parent Safety Tips, Safety in the Home, Juvenile Fire Setters and other valuable information. The goal is to help prevent fires in Community homes.
The evening workshop started with a talk by Community Outreach Supervisor Lori Calderon, who explained the top three causes of fires in the home.
1. Cooking Fires
Calderon said it only takes a few seconds to unintentionally start a fire on the stove. Maybe you’re cooking in the kitchen when the doorbell rings or your child gets hurt. You walk away, and next thing you know the frying pan is on fire.
What you do next is important:
- The first thing you should do for any fire is call 911 and ask for the Salt River Fire Department.
- If a grease fire starts in the kitchen, do not throw water on it; that only spreads the fire. Instead, cover the fire by sliding a lid or another pan over it to smother it.
- Keep wires and dishtowels away from heated surfaces.
- Keep your appliances clean, especially the oven and drip pans under the stove burners.
The second leading cause of fires and fire-related death is smoking. If you smoke, it’s important to properly discard and extinguish your cigarette.
- If you are outside, use a wide-base ashtray and do not throw your cigarette butt on the ground. In our dry environment, vegetation can easily catch fire.
- Indoors, keep ashtrays away from curtains/drapes, tablecloths or other fabric-based items.
- Don’t smoke when you’re feeling tired or taking medication that makes you drowsy.
- Keep cigarette lighters out of reach of children.
3. Heating Equipment
Many fires and related fatalities in homes are caused by heating equipment. Whether it’s a backyard grill in the summer, a space heater in winter or the clothes dryer anytime, always follow the directions for using your appliances and never leave them unattended.
- Don’t add too much lighter fluid; make sure you use the correct amount. Also, do not spray the fluid over the grill, where it can expose more area catch on fire.
- Do not leave food unattended when grilling outside.
- Place your space heater away from fabric such as curtains, blankets and clothes.
- Clothes dryers should get a special mention here. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, dryers cause more than 15,000 fires nationwide every year. The reason: dryer vents clogged with lint. This blocks air flow, causing gases and heat to build up, which could result in a fire. Make sure to clean the lint screen on the dryer after every use, and have a professional come in to clean your dryer vent. How do you know the dryer vent may be blocked?
- You’ve never had the dryer vent cleaned before.
- It’s taking more than one cycle to dry your clothes completely.
- You notice it’s hotter than usual in the room where the dryer is, or your clothing items feel hotter to the touch when you take them out of the dryer.
- You see visible lint around the dryer and/or dryer vent.
|Pictured is the little girl (second from left) who won the back-to-school give away at the workshop.|
Fire Safety Education
Children should be taught how to prevent fires from a young age, because they are naturally curious about fire. Calderon mentioned that children under six years old most likely would start a fire in the bedroom, and kids ages 10 to 12 most likely to start fires outside. Explain to your children that fire-related items (lighters, matches, etc.) are not toys, and they should always quickly tell an adult if they do see a fire.
The Salt River Fire Department has a special Juvenile Fire Setters program to intervene with kids who are experimenting with fire. The department also teaches fire prevention through a variety of programs; for information, visit www.srpmic-nsn.gov/government/fire/community.asp.
Smoke alarms should be tested twice a year and replaced every 10 years. Smoke alarms should always be mounted onto the wall, not hanging. It’s always good to explain to the children inside the house that “This is an alarm to warn us that there is a fire. If you hear it, get out of the house right away.” Also come up with a family emergency escape plan in case of a fire, and discuss it with all family members. Each room should have an alternate escape route, which is normally the window. Designate a specific area outside the home for everyone to meet.
Always report any fire to the Salt River Fire Department (911), even if you already put out the fire yourself. In some instances, remaining fire embers may have reached the ceiling, and in the attic they can reactivate the fire in the home. It’s always important to let Community authorities handle each fire that occurs in the home, for your safety.
The Prevention & Intervention Services-Housing Services Home Fire Safety Workshop is offered once a month. The event is for the whole family and includes back-to-school giveaways for children.
For more information on these workshops, contact Housing Services at (480) 362-5763.