Fire Prevention Week: More than stop, drop and roll

24 Sep 2015 | Lance Cpl. Jonah Lovy Marine Aircraft Group 31

Oct. 4 – 10 is Fire Prevention Week aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. Marines and their families from around the Tri-command should educate themselves on the reality of fire hazards and steps they can take to prevent them.

President Woodrow Wilson established fire prevention week in October, 1922 and since then, the week of Oct. 9 has been dedicated to raising awareness about fire safety issues. Law enforcement services and safety representatives aboard the air station will be reaching out to the community with helpful strategies.

“We have a theme that changes every year,” said Joseph A Otterbine, the lead fire inspector aboard MCAS Beaufort. “This year’s topic is ‘hear the beep where you sleep,’ referring to the smoke detectors in your house. Every room in a house should have a smoke detector and every floor should have one in the hall.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, most fires occur in the house between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. when most people are sleeping.

“Some people are very heavy sleepers and might not wake up from a fire alarm,” said Otterbine. “If you have someone in your home who is a very deep sleeper, like a small child, it’s your responsibility to get them up and get them out.”

After everyone in a home is awake and aware of a fire, the next step is getting everyone out safely. The most convenient exit in your home might be blocked by smoke or heat.

            “Have two ways out of every room and sleep with your door shut so if there is a fire in the night there is something protecting you and you have another way out,” said Otterbine.

            The number one leading cause of home fires and fire injuries in the U.S. is kitchen fires, according to the United States Fire Academy. Kitchen fires can occur when people aren’t paying attention to what’s on the stove. Cooking fires contribute to 49 percent of all home fires but they can be started by a variety of factors.

            The best way to be prepared is to make sure your smoke detectors are operating correctly and have batteries with plenty of charge.

“You need to check smoke detectors regularly to make sure they’re still working right and keeping you safe,” said Otterbine. “You should check smoke detectors every month and change the batteries at least twice a year.”

It is also important to practice exit drills in your home.

“Make sure that everyone living there knows exactly how to get out in the event of a fire,” said Otterbine. “Have a meeting place at least 75 feet away from your home where everyone can gather safely.”

The principles of keeping your home and family safe apply to the workplace as well. Have a plan with your co-workers to maintain smoke detectors and get accountability of everyone in case of an emergency.

“Marines like to think they are invincible but they are not,” said Otterbine. “These safety measures are going to save your life.” 

Knowing the risks and having a plan can mean the difference between life and death in the event of a fire emergency.

“Your life is more important than anything,” said Otterbine. “We can replace the furniture, belongings and even the house but we can’t replace you.”