FORT OSAGE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT’S COMMUNITY PROGRAMS ARE BACK THANKS TO LOCAL BUSINESSES
Fort Osage Fire Protection District responds to emergency calls and plays an active part in the community. It offers a variety of prevention and safety programs including: school presentations, lunch break demonstrations at the schools with the ambulance and crew, career days, CPR classes offered both at the high school and fire department, kitchen safety classes to eighth graders, and station tours to individuals and organizations.
This year, with the help of the National Fire Safety Council and donations from local businesses, Fort Osage Fire is able to reach even more children to provide safety education materials. National Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 7 to 13. During this time, visits are planned for Fort Osage School District’s three elementary schools, where fire prevention presentations will be given to the preschool and kindergarten classes. This year, Fort Osage Fire will also participate in Buckner’s Trunk or Treat Oct. 31, on Hudson Street. Donations help purchase Halloween safety materials and bags. “It is important that we get the word out,” Fort Osage Fire Office Manager, Christine Ruby, said. “Thanks to donations we’ve received, we are able to get back into the community.”
A part of Fort Osage Fire’s community outreach is education. Greg Daugherty, Assistant Chief, talks with The Clarion about common fire hazards during the upcoming holiday season.
Candles and lights are sometimes used to decorate for trick-or-treaters. Daugherty recommends the following safeguards:
- Keep decorations away from open flames and other heat sources, such as lightbulbs.
- Make sure home exists are clear of decorations so nothing is blocking escape paths.
- Try battery-operated candles, glow sticks or flashlights for alternatives to real candles.
- Make sure children and pets are watched at all times when using real candles, and put the candles out of their reach.
- Make sure trick-or-treaters’ costumes are flame proof, brightly colored or that they carry a flashlight.
Cooking fires are common during the holiday season. Daugherty says to never leave cooking unattended. If you do have to leave the kitchen while cooking, Daugherty suggests taking a cooking utensil, such as a spatula, as a reminder. A mistake homeowners often make is putting water on grease fires. “If you are using grease, it is always good to have the lid, or a pan that is bigger than the pan you are cooking with. So, if it does catch fire, you can cover it up,” Daugherty said.
Christmas decorations can also be fire hazards. Daugherty has these tips for homeowners:
- Check the manufacturer’s labels to make sure decorations and lights are flame-resistant.
- Check holiday lights for frayed wires or excessive wear.
- Keep Christmas trees at least three feet away from any heat source, such as candles, lights or a fireplace.
- Make sure the tree, or any other decorations are not blocking exits.
- Turn off holiday light decorations before going to bed or leaving your home.
Common Fire Prevention Mistakes
- Smoke Detectors
According to Daugherty, about four out of five home-fire fatalities are due to nonworking smoke detectors. Most of the time smoke detectors are present, but the batteries are missing. Fort Osage Fire participates in the Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery campaign. It urges homeowners to replace batteries in their smoke detectors every six months when they change their clocks. Daugherty advises homeowners to clean their smoke detectors every time they replace the batteries. Dust and buildup can impact their sensitivity. Homeowners can take a vacuum hose around the outside to clean the smoke detector. Smoke detectors should be on at least every level of your home, especially outside of sleeping areas.
Individuals who need assistance with smoke detectors and installation may contact their local fire department. Fort Osage Fire provides smoke detectors and installation for individuals living in its district.
- Exit Plan
In the event of a house fire, it is important for families to have an established exit plan and designated meeting place. Exit Drills In The Home (E.D.I.T.H), is a program developed by the Kansas City, Missouri Fire Department. The program recommends drawing a map of the house, marking the escape routes, and practicing the drill, similar to a school fire drill. Daugherty suggests, “Households with smaller children should have at least one adult assigned to them to make sure they get out.” The National Fire Protection Association suggests these steps when developing an exit plan:
- Draw a floor plan or a map of your home. Show all doors and windows.
- Mark two ways out of each room.
- Pick a family meeting place outside where everyone can meet.
- Practice the plan at least twice a year.
For more information, visit nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Safety-in-the-home/Escape-planning.
- Heaters and Fireplaces
Daugherty says most house fires during the fall and winter are generally due to poor safety practices with heating equipment. Electric heaters, overloaded outlets, and fireplaces are big culprits with starting house fires. Daugherty advises homeowners to make sure there is a three-feet clearance around any heating device. Fireplaces should have fire screens in front them and cleaned by a professional chimney sweep.
- Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide poisoning is another common danger. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas. It produces flu-like symptoms. Carbon monoxide poisoning may not be detected unless a person gets sick or worse. “If you have a natural gas or propane fueled furnaces, you should clean them and make sure they aren’t producing carbon monoxide,” Daugherty said. Carbon monoxide detectors may be purchased at most home stores for $9 to $20.
- Fire Extinguishers
Another common fire prevention mistake is not using fire extinguishers properly. When used properly, a portable fire extinguisher can save lives and property, eliminate small fires, or contain them until the fire department arrives. Ruby offers a simple acronym to help people remember how to properly operate a fire extinguisher: PASS. Pull the pin, Aim low, Squeeze the lever above the handle, and Sweep from side to side. Fort Osage Fire also offers fire extinguisher classes to individuals who need more assistance.
Fort Osage Fire’s community programs are available once again thanks to the National Fire Safety Council and community businesses’ donations. “It was important that we got the word out that we are doing this because we are really appreciative of local businesses supporting this,” said Ruby. “It gets us back into the community.”
Local businesses that want to donate may contact Christine Ruby at 816.650.5811, or visit fortosagefire.org.