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BLOG POST: Saving Lives; The Value of Home Fire Prevention

MUSCATINE, Iowa The value of fire safety is never more evident than after a young family escapes their smoky and burning home with virtually no harm. This was the case last Friday (October 29) when a woman, an infant and a menagerie of animals escaped from a smoke-filled house on Sterneman Boulevard.

The woman and child were sleeping in the bedroom with the door closed when the sound of a smoke alarm just outside the bedroom woke the woman. Opening the door, the woman found a house filled with smoke. Without thinking twice, the woman grabbed the infant, put three dogs on the porch, and then escaped the house when the first units arrived at the scene.

“The fact that there were smoke detectors all over the house that were activated by the smoke and woke the family more than likely saved their lives,” Deputy Chief Mike Hartman said. “But what else helped was the fact that the family closed the door to their room, which prevented the smoke from entering.”

These two fire safety measures (smoke detectors and closing the door) are just two of the tips offered by the Muscatine Fire Department as residents prepare for winter.

Muscatine residents, like most families across the United States, will set their clocks back one hour to 2 a.m. on Sunday, November 7, and the Muscatine Fire Department is urging homeowners to change the batteries. their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors while they change the time on their clocks.


Smoke detectors are one of the many lines of defense that families can use to escape a fire in their home. Closing the door before falling asleep, installing carbon monoxide detectors, and creating a home escape plan can also help prevent a tragedy.

“Smoke detectors should be installed inside every bedroom, outside every sleeping area and on every level of the house, including the basement,” said Battalion Commander Ted Hillard.

On levels without bedrooms, smoke detectors should be installed in the living room (living room or family room), at the bottom of the stairs to the next level, or both locations. Detectors are typically mounted on the ceiling or on a wall within 12 inches of the ceiling and at least 10 feet from a cooking appliance to minimize false alarms when cooking.

Hillard shared additional advice on smoke detectors.

  • Do not install smoke detectors near windows, doors or ducts where drafts could interfere with their operation.
  • Never paint smoke detectors. Paint, stickers or other decorations could prevent the alarms from working.
  • Test smoke detectors at least once a month using the test button.
  • Replace the battery at least once a year. If the alarm sounds to warn you that the battery is low, replace the battery immediately.

“The new smoke detectors have a 10-year non-replaceable battery,” Hillard said. “You have to write the date of installation on the device, because once they start chirping after 10 years, they need to be thrown out and replaced. “

Having interconnected smoke detectors also increases safety, but it is important that all interconnected smoke detectors come from the same manufacturer. Interconnection can be achieved by wired or wireless technology. So when a smoke detector sounds, they all ring.

When testing fire alarms, pay attention to where your pets are hiding. This is probably where they will go in an emergency.

Residents can call the Muscatine Fire Department (563-263-9233) if they have questions regarding smoke detectors. The ministry will come to inspect the smoke detectors in a house. They also have a grant program that provides smoke detectors to homeowners.

NFPA – Install and Maintain Smoke Detectors

CLOSE BEFORE dozing off

The fire is spreading faster than ever due to the use of man-made materials, furniture and construction. Closing doors can help stop the spread of a fire and, in many cases, can actually help put out a fire before it does. Family on Sterneman Boulevard discovered how beneficial it was to close the door before falling asleep.

“Having the door closed kept the smoke from entering and filling the room,” Hartman said.

Smoke rises to the ceiling and begins to roll throughout the house to areas of least resistance. Closing a door increases this resistance.

“We could see during our investigation that the door was closed because smoke filled the rest of the house,” Hartman said. “There were no smoke stains inside the room and this is a good indication that the smoke has been prevented from entering the room.”

Hartman also said keeping the doors closed could also help prevent the spread of a fire.

“Fire needs oxygen to spread and a closed door can reduce the amount of fuel available for a fire,” Hartman said. “In some cases, a closed door can actually help smother a fire before it gets out of hand. “

Based on findings from the Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI), “Close Your Door” encourages people trapped in a room during a fire as well as those who can safely leave a home to close as many doors as possible.

A closed door can be an effective barrier against deadly levels of carbon monoxide, smoke and flames, and can give people more time to react to the smoke detector. In fact, according to the FSRI, there can be an ambient temperature difference of 900 degrees between a room with one door open and one with a closed door, with the room with the door open reaching temperatures of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit or more.

“Fire has not changed over the past quarter century, but our home environments have changed and, because of this fire, it is moving faster than ever before, with the number of home fire deaths increasing even as home fires are declining, ”said Steve Kerber, vice president of research and director of the FSRI. “Our annual fire safety survey shows that fire safety habits are still not where they should be to prevent loss of life and property. There are three simple steps anyone can take by having working smoke detectors, having an escape plan, and closing their bedroom door at night.

Close the FSRI before you fall asleep

See the Huge Difference a Door Can Make (YouTube Video)


Another important fire safety measure that people should take to protect themselves and their loved ones in the event of a fire is to have and practice an escape plan that includes having two ways out of each room and identifying a common meeting place outside the home.

“This is one of the key messages of our educational program,” Hartman said. “Knowing what to do when a smoke alarm sounds, where to exit a room or house, and knowing where to meet outside is crucial to increasing your chances of surviving a home fire.

The fires spread quickly. Often there is only a minute or two left to escape after the smoke alarm sounds. It is therefore important to bring household members together to develop a plan, put the plan into practice and inspect all possible exits and escape routes.

NFPA Home Fire Escape Planning Tips

Every second counts (YouTube video)

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