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Sunday, October 12, 2014

fire safety - Rick Walker

Thank you to Rick Walker for answering these questions and offering really important advice to we parents about how to help their children understand fire safety. For example, keeping important documents in the freezer if you don't yet have a safe - great idea! 

This is part two of our series regarding fire safety, after a good friend of mine had a house fire two weeks ago. I know other moms are wondering what they can do to prevent fires as well. Hope this helps. 

Thank you, Rick!

1. How long have you been working in the fire prevention support field? Where do you work?
I have been involved in fire prevention in one form or another since 1978. I am currently employed as a Fire Chief for the Town of Barrington NH.

2. What are some of the most important things, that you think all homeowners need to consider when it comes to fire prevention?
First thing is make sure you have working smoke detectors on each level of your home, in each sleeping area and immediately outside each sleeping area, they should be hard wired with battery back -up. never leave candles burning un attended. Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children.

3. What is something you think all parents of small children need to talk to their kids about when it comes to fire safety?
Never play with matches or lighters, Teach them that matches and lighters are very dangerous when not used properly, They should also be taught that if they find a lighter or matches they should not pick them up. They should tell an adult who will pick them up.

4. How should parents talk to their children about fire safety or what to do in case of an emergency. (where to meet up, what to do when fire alarms go off ect.) At what age do you think kids should be talked to about this?

Parents should begin to teach fire safety tips to their children as young as possible. You can start out teaching them not to touch matches, lighters and fire because they can burn us, By first grade they should know where the family will meet during an emergency. How to stop drop and roll, using 911 for emergencies only. know their address and parents cell phone numbers.

5. Any suggestions for those kids who sleep through anything, including loud fire alarms? 
My first suggestion would be to make sure there is a working smoke detector in the room.

6. Any suggestions on helping kids realize that smoke alarms are not scary, that they are there to help us and to get out of the house?
Practice, if you regularly practice fire drills in the home soon it becomes a non issue for them, (make sure you use an actual smoke detector in your home so they associate the proper noise with a true emergency.)

7. What type of maintenance can families do in their home to prevent fires?
Keep flammable materials away from heating appliances, don't overload electrical cords, make sure dryer vents are kept clean.

8. What are your recommendations about using washing machines and drivers, (on at night while you are sleeping? clean the vent how often? Leave it running while you leave the house or not? Why?)
You should never leave your dryer running while no one is home, dryer fires will surely go undetected until it is too late if no one is home. If at all possible avoid using the dryer while sleeping as well.

Dryer lint screens should be cleaned after each use and the vent should be cleaned every year. Dryers are a heating appliance and get hot. Washing machines are typically safe enough to use any time.

9. Any recommendations about other appliances in the house- unplug toasters? Only run dishwasher when someone is home?
What about crock pots? 
It is a good idea to to keep your toaster clean crumbs over time build up and can catch fire. Make sure when frying with hot oil you keep a lid handy that will cover the top of the pan. If you don't need to run the dishwasher when no one is home, don't. Small appliances like crock pots are usually not a problem and can be used anytime.

10. What do you find is one of the more common causes of house fires?
Improper installation of wood stoves, smoke pipes and chimneys.

11. What do you recommend for fire safety boxes, safes ect, For families to keep important items? Any special brands or ideas?
A good quality fire proof safe is a great idea. While I don't recommend a specific brand you should determine size by what you will want to store in it. If people can not afford a safe a limited amount of important papers can be kept in your freezer. Your freezer is well insulated and will protect papers better than just sitting in a drawer.
12, For those going through a fire, what do you think are some of the best things others can do support them during this time? 
Provide a warm meal for them, offer to sit with the kids for them so they can have time to take care of things without having to deal with life. Give them a listening ear. They usually don't need advice as much as they may need to just talk. If you happen to have pictures of them or their, kids offer them to the family.

13, What are some things you teach young children about fire Safety? Are there certain things you say, books parents could read? that would help them to learn about preventing fires or what to do during fires?
While I don't have any specific books to direct you to the Internet is a great place to find fire prevention information for almost any age.

14. Anything you want to add?

Positive reinforcement about fire safety will go a long way toward children understanding that in order to stay safe we must practice fire safety everyday.

Rick Walker
Fire Chief / Emergency Management Director
Town of Barrington
774 Franklin Pierce HWY
Barrington, NH 03825

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