Protect & Serve: Have two ways out for safety
by Matt McClellan / For the Tracy Press
Oct 04, 2012 | 3436 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Fire is not mysterious. All fire needs to ignite is a little bit of oxygen, a touch of heat, and some type of material to burn. A fire can strike at any time when all these elements come together.

Unfortunately, almost 1,100 homes burn down every day in the United States. Do you know what to do if there’s a fire in your home?

Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 7 to 13, and the theme this year is “Be rabbit-ready — have two ways out.”

Rabbits build their burrows with two ways out, so they’ll always be able to escape if they sense danger. Pretty smart, don’t you think? It’s also important for people to have two ways out of every room in the home, just in case a fire sparks.

When a fire starts in your home, it’s imperative that your family has a plan. Fire doubles in size every 30 seconds, and it doesn’t stop burning until everything’s gone.

The Tracy Fire Department would like to partner with local families to ensure that all of us know what to do and how to get out if a fire strikes a local home.

We strongly recommend stopping by any nearby fire station to talk to the firefighters about the importance of fire safety.

In 2012, a home structure fire was reported every 85 seconds. And because fire moves fast, people need to be ready to move even faster.

The fact is, when fire strikes, a home can be engulfed in smoke and flames in just two minutes.

That’s why it’s essential to let everyone know how important it is to make and practice a home fire escape plan with two ways out of every room. If the first way is blocked, there’s a backup plan ready to put into action.

Did you know that your nose actually goes to sleep when you do? As a general rule, smoke detectors are your first line of defense in alerting you about a fire. Please check batteries twice a year, and make sure there is at least one detector in your home.

When a fire strikes, get low and go. One of the reasons we stay low is to escape the super-heated gases that are hovering just inches above our heads. Start working your way toward one of your two ways out. Feel the door with the back of your hand to feel for heat. Then get out and stay out.

It’s important for you and your family to have a meeting place outside your home so everyone can be accounted for.

We all know practice makes perfect, and this is especially important when your family’s safety is at stake.

It’s hard to give examples of every scenario that might play out, so please visit a local fire station for more detailed information. The men and woman of your local fire department are eager to help your family learn how to be rabbit-ready.

• Matt McClellan is a firefighter-medic for the Tracy Fire Department. He can be reached at To Protect and Serve is an occasional column in Our Town written by local safety officers.
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