Probably one aspect you do not think of much is fire prevention and fire safety. I know I do not dwell on the subject. But, being we suffer from RA, it really is something that should be planned out in case the unthinkable happens. Its not like most of us could snap out of bed, and fly around the house collecting kids or pets and dash out the back door. Just is not going to happen with RA. I am lucky to get OUT of bed, much less jump up to the sound of a smoke alarm! Well, October is Fire Safety and Prevention month, so I thought passing on some thoughts on the subject would be a good idea.
I do put some thought into the subject as my favorite pastime and "escape from RA" is my wood shop. Obviously a wood shop is a fairly large target for a fire, and I have had a few scares over the years, but nothing too serious. Electric motors emit sparks, chemical stains and paints emit vapors, and nearly everywhere I look there is at least a fine sheen of wood dust, if not an outright pile of sawdust! It could be dangerous, and needs to be treated as such. I know the exits, the garage door, the man door on the side of the garage and the doorway to the house. Exits are something you need to keep in mind, whether you know the layout of the area, or are new to it, scan the room and note the exits.
The THEME to this years Fire Prevention Month is Have 2 Ways Out. Now this doubles your work! Make sure both exits are available to you and know how to get to both even in the chaos of an emergency! A fire can happen anywhere! I keep a fire extinguisher near the exits, this is important, you do not want the fire extinguisher in the middle of the room, you want it NEAR the exit. This way you automatically go TO the exit and, if possible, you can use the extinguisher FROM the exit. The most important thing to save in a fire is YOURSELF and loved ones! Do you live in a multi-story home, an apartment complex or condo? If so, you may NOT be able to exit through the ground floor..... what is your plan now? Is there an emergency exit? A fire escape ladder? What would you do?
I also have an operational smoke detector in the shop. We check all of our detectors on Labor Day and Memorial Day to ensure they are working. A detector with a dead battery is not a whole lot of use to anyone...... Another thing to consider is the age of your detectors, it is a good idea to upgrade if you have had your detectors for 10 years or more. The new ones are more advanced and can sense a fire, or in some cases even heat at a much lower level, giving you more time to react. In our home all the detectors are linked, so if one goes off, they all go off. This way if someone is sleeping in the far corner of the home, they will be as aware of the danger as a person near the fire.
Now, add in RA. We do not like to, but the fact is we HAVE RA, and we need to adapt life to accommodate its drawbacks. Earlier I mentioned exits. Exits are important, but what if like many of us, you are in a wheelchair? Can you make it OUT the exit? Does it open on to a stair well? Is there someone with you that could help you in case of an emergency? All things to take account of to ensure your safety! Fire extinguishers are a great tool to have in case of fire, but do you know HOW to use an extinguisher? CAN you use it? Some of us may not be able to actually pull the pin and compress the trigger while sweeping the nozzle towards the base of the fire. There are other ways to extinguish a fire - sand, a blanket, spraying water - many things will work to put out a fire and may be more suitable for you to use. The major thing to think about here is WHAT can you physically do, and of course, WHAT will work on the type of fire you are facing? You may or may not know, throwing water on a grease or metal fire will only make the fire worse! Trying to suffocate a chemical fire with a blanket will only catch the blanket on fire! Usually your safest option is a ABC type fire extinguisher, but again, make SURE you can operate it! All in all, the SAFEST thing to do in case of fire, is to GET OUT and call 911! Don't risk your life to save material things.
Many fire stations, especially this month, offer classes on the proper use of fire extinguishers, fire safety, and emergency evacuation planning. Contacting your local Fire Dept or Volunteer Fire Dept can give you all the information you need to attend a class in your area. As the weather cools off the risk of fire increases, leaf litter outdoors, dirty heaters being turned on for the first time this season, people gathering around campfires, even people deep frying turkeys! All can cause a fire. We found out just how very fast this can happen early this spring. A child playing with matches in the woods ignited the dead pine needles carpeting the area. Within minutes it was out of control and by the time the Fire Dept arrived (they were VERY fast I should mention) the blaze had spread to 15 acres and was right at our backyard fence! We were about to flee when firemen broke through our fence, hoses in hand and doused the fire enough to save our home. No homes were lost that day, but it could have been much, much worse!
We quickly loaded my power chair, grabbed the fire box in the den with all of our important papers, I turned on the sprinkler system in the backyard and we were ready to run with both cars. Thankfully we did not have to, BUT we had a plan, we knew what to do and did it. What would happen if you faced a fire tomorrow? Tonight? I pray you never do, but please have a RA supported plan just in case!
Published On: October 17, 2012