Many films, and some recent TV shows, depict movie stars engaging in dramatic acts of heroism, jumping through flames to save someone else trapped in a fire. While these scenes can serve as great entertainment, the Sandoval County La Madera Fire District wants to remind everyone that they are just that: enjoyable, but completely unrealistic images of fire solely used to entertain audiences.
In a collaborative effort to keep residents safe from fire, the La Madera Fire District and the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) urge everyone to stay out of a fire once they’ve escaped it. Fire can spread rapidly, particularly in homes, which often contain multiple, highly combustible items like furniture, bedding and curtains. Within minutes, the intense heat from fire can cause severe, life-threatening burns; the dark, black smoke it generates makes it impossible to see through, and breathing can quickly become difficult or impossible. Re-entering a burning building is treacherous, and can deliver crippling, if not fatal consequences.
If you know or think someone is trapped inside a home or building, it’s safest to immediately alert the fire department and let them perform the rescue. Understandably, this can be a tough message to accept, especially if a loved one or pet is still inside. However, only trained professionals who have the appropriate protective gear and experience should enter a burning building. Firefighters are properly trained and equipped to navigate a fire.
According to Judy Comoletti, NFPA division manager for public education, going back into a fire to save a person or animal on your own can result in tragedy. “In many cases, the individual who goes back inside becomes trapped, while the person or pet they’re trying to save has escaped in the interim,” says Ms. Comoletti. “Going back inside a burning building also presents increased risk for firefighters, who will likely need to rescue that person as well.” Ms. Comoletti adds that pets are often quite industrious at escaping a fire on their own, sometimes unbeknownst to their owners.
The La Madera Fire District and NFPA strongly encourage residents to develop a home fire escape plan with all household members. This includes two ways out of every room (usually a door and a window), a local emergency number to alert the fire department, and a meeting place outside in front of the home where everyone will meet upon exiting. Then practice the plan regularly, at least twice a year. Also, make sure to have properly installed, working smoke alarms throughout the home, which may provide the early warning needed to escape a fire safely.
“Home escape planning and practice serve as vital skills for getting out of a fire safely,” adds Ms. Comoletti. “And if you ever have to put your home fire escape skills into practice, remember to get outside, and stay outside!”
For more information about developing and practicing a home escape plan, contact The La Madera Fire District at http://lamaderafire.org/contact-us or visit NFPA’s official Web site at http://www.nfpa.org/homeescape.