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Fire Safety Education

It is often thought that fire safety only occurs in October during Fire Prevention Month. The Elon Fire Department works throughout the year to provide Fire Safety Education to the public and the schools.

The Elon Fire Department has been associated with The National Fire Safety Council for nearly 30 years. This long running association has allowed the Elon Fire Department to provide the children and adults in our community with fire education material free of charge to the department. Along with the Council’s mascot, Fire Pup, the department provides handouts for public functions in order to provide information on Fire Safety to the public. Each year the department provides Fire Extinguisher training to approximately 300 business employees and 100 campus staff and students. During fire prevention month the department sees approximately 700 students either at the department or their school. Currently we offer this program for all classes K-5 at Elon Elementary School.  During this program firefighters put on a fire safety skit that includes a puppet show, mock up bedroom with simulated smoke, fire, a door and a window. Each K-5th grade student is run through the skit that simulates waking up to a smoke detector, crawling out of bed to the door, feeling the door for heat and then exiting out the window. The students also demonstrate calling 911 where they are asked for their name, address, telephone number and the type of emergency they have. They complete the skit by showing the firefighters how to stop, drop and roll and receiving their Fire Safety badge.

The Elon Fire Department constantly tries to make sure every home with children has a smoke detector. If you currently have children and do not have a smoke detector in your home please call us at 336.584.9190. We will be happy to provide one for you.

If you are interested in a fire safety class, fire extinguisher training, or a public appearance of Fire Pup, please call us at 336.584.9190 or stop by the station for information on smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, winter safety tips, and severe weather tips.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless deadly gas. Because you can not see, taste or smell it, carbon monoxide can kill you before you know it is there.

Everyone is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Medical experts believe, however, that individuals with greater oxygen requirements such as unborn babies, infants, children, senior citizens and people with coronary or respiratory problems are at greater risk.

The greater danger of carbon monoxide is its attraction to hemoglobin in the blood stream. When breathed in, carbon monoxide bonds with hemoglobin in the blood, displacing the oxygen which cells need to function. When Co is present in the air, it rapidly accumulates in the blood, forming a toxic compound known as carboxyhemoglobin (COHb). Carboxyhemoglobin causes symptoms similar to the flu, such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizzy spells, confusion and irritability. As levels of COHb increase, vomiting, loss of consciousness and eventually brain damage or death can result. *Source: Journal of American Medical Association.

Carbon monoxide is a by-product of incomplete combustion, present whenever fuel is burned. It is produced by common home appliances, such as gas or oil furnaces, clothes dryers, ranges, ovens, water heaters or unvented space heaters, fireplaces, charcoal grills and wood burning stoves. Fumes from automobiles also contain carbon monoxide and can enter a home through walls or doorways if a car is left running in an attached garage.

All of these sources can contribute to a CO problem in the home. If a home is vented properly and is free from appliance malfunctions, air pressure fluctuations or airway, venting and chimney blockages, carbon monoxide will most likely be safely vented to the outside. But energy-efficient insulation meant to keep warm air in during winter months and cool air in during summer months could cause carbon monoxide to be trapped inside.

For further information on Carbon Monoxide and ways to keep your home safe from it please feel free to contact us at 336.584.9190. You can also follow this link to the U.S. Fire Administration for additional information.

EDITH (Exit Drills in the Home)

Ninety percent of all fires occur in single family dwellings, duplexes and apartment buildings. The attitude of “it only happens to someone else” allows for a false sense of safety when we are at home. Based on a National Fire Protection survey, eight out of ten fatal fires occurred at home. With these odds, fire safety should become a high priority for every family in America.

To be ready in case of a fire follow this easy plan:

  • Install and maintain smoke detectors.
  • As a family project, make an escape plan of your home.
  • Have fire drills during the day and at night.
  • Once you are out, do not go back in the house.
  • Call the fire department by dialing 911 using a neighbors phone or a cell phone.

Please follow this U.S. Fire Administration link for lots of good resources regarding Fire Escape Plans.

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are considered “first aid” equipment when a fire occurs. If the fire is small and contained, a fire extinguisher can stop the fire before it grows out of control. Every home should have a fire extinguisher located in areas where fires may occur. Kitchens, workshops and near exits are excellent choices for locating extinguishers. Mount the extinguisher on a wall no higher than five feet where it will be visible when needed.

A good choice for a fire extinguisher is a multi-purpose ABC extinguisher. A two-pound model can be purchased at most hardware and department stores. Read the instructions carefully and become familiar with the extinguishers operation.

Most extinguishers operate using the PASS method:

  • Pull the safety pin from the top of the extinguisher.
  • Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the handle.
  • Sweep from side to side until all of the flames are extinguished.

Maintaining your extinguisher is also important. Once a month check the pressure on the gauge and be sure the container is not damaged or corroded. Always have a qualified person recharge your extinguisher immediately after it is used or discard it and purchase a new one.

For more information on fire extinguishers please follow this link to the U.S. Fire Administration.  If you or your company are interested in having a fire extinguisher class, please contact either of our stations at 336.584.9190 or 336.586.1002.

Smoke Detectors

Smoke Detectors can cut your risk of death by fire almost in half. You should have at least one smoke detector on every level of your home. The Elon Fire Department constantly tries to make sure every home with children has a smoke detector.

It is important to properly maintain your smoke detector. Test the detector once a month using canned smoke. Pushing the “test button” only operates the horn and does not test the detectors ability to see smoke. Keep it free of lint which can cause the smoke detector not to perform properly. If you have a battery operated smoke detector, it is recommended that you change your battery twice a year. A good time to change your battery is when daylight savings time begins and ends. The national motto is “Change your clock, Change your battery”. If you should have a wired smoke detector in your home, it is advisable to add a detector that is battery operated to protect your home and family when the electricity is out. You should also replace your smoke detector once it reaches 10 years of age.

For more information, please call us at 336.584.9190. If you currently have children and do not have a smoke detector in your home, we will be happy to provide one for you. You may also follow this U.S. Fire Administration link for even greater information!

Campus Dorms and Apartment Fire Safety

Please click here and watch this Campus Fire Safety Video

Between 2 and 3 million students live in dormitories at colleges and universities. For many of these students, this will be their first time living away from home, meeting new friends, and having new experiences. They are at an age when they may have a sense of invulnerability-nothing bad can happen to them.

Unfortunately, tragedy can strike hard at these young men and women.

  • A dormitory fire at Seton Hall University claimed the lives of three freshmen.
  • A fraternity fire at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill killed five students.
  • Double fraternity fire tragedies in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania killed eight young men.
  • Off-campus fire in Berkeley, California; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Morgantown, West Virginia and New York City, among others, have also killed young men and women preparing to move on with their lives.

Fires in residence halls are of concern because of a large number of people potentially exposed. The types of residence halls found on campus can vary tremendously, from wood-frame renovated houses to high rises.

Greek Housing may be found on-campus or off campus. The local “house” may be owned by the national fraternity organization, rented from a local landlord, or owned by the corporation board (alumni or who are responsible for the physical facilities). Greek housing provides an alternative for students who are seeking to move out of a residence hall. Greek housing can range from renovated wood frame structures to noncombustible structures that were built to the same standards, and even by the same people, as the residence halls. The level of fire protection within these occupancies can vary dramatically, too. In the Greek system, the fire problem clearly lies within the fraternities rather than the sororities. From 1990 to 2000, there was only one fire fatality in a sorority, compared to 23 within fraternities.

From 1994 to 1998, there were an average of 1570 structure fires causing $9.1 million a year in direct damage in dormitories and fraternity and sorority houses. From 1990 to 2000, NFPA has records on 19 fatal incidents that killed 33 people. Eight of these incidents occurred in dormitories, causing the deaths of 10 students. The remaining 11 fires occurred in Greek housing and killed 23 people. These statistics do not include the fires in off campus, non-Greek housing.

The three leading causes of fires in campus residential occupancies are incendiary and suspicious causes, cooking, and smoking. Together, they accounted for three of every five fires in the properties.

Students may not be fully aware of the fire protection features in the buildings they occupy and may inadvertently bypass them. A common violation is doors that are propped open for easier traffic flow. By doing so, they bypass the fire safety features of compartmentation and create an avenue for fire spread from beyond the compartment of origin.

Regardless of the cause, the activation of the building’s fire alarm system is an indication of an emergency and immediate and orderly evacuation of the building is essential. Upon discovering fire or smoke, remain calm. The following steps should be carried out in order, if it is safe to do so, and time permits.

  • Upon discovery of a fire, shout “FIRE” to alert those in your living space.
  • If in doubt, get out! DO NOT FIGHT THE FIRE. As you exit the area, close all doors in the immediate vicinity to help confine the fire in the origin area if possible.
  • Check your door before opening it to make sure it is not hot and the fire is not on the other side. If you encounter smoke when leaving the building, stay as low to the floor as possible.
  • Sound the alarm. If your building is equipped with fire alarm pull stations, pull the handle in the fire alarm box closet to the location of the fire.
  • Dial 911 or report the fire by calling the Emergency Number of your local fire department. This number should be attached to every phone in your building.
  • If the building is not equipped with fire alarm pull station, try to notify as many persons in the area of the emergency if it is safe for you to do so. At a minimum, shout “FIRE” as you exit.
  • Individuals hearing the warning or seeing the fire should begin and orderly evacuation of the apartment.
  • If you become trapped in your room, hang something outside the window such as a sheet, curtain, etc., to warn firefighters you are still there in the building. Place wet towels around the top, sides and bottom of your apartment or room door.
  • Close any remaining doors if possible. This will help to reduce the movement of air to minimize the fire’s spread.
  • If your building hallway is equipped with fire separation doors, make sure they are never blocked to ensure their closure.
  • If your building is equipped with elevators, DO NOT attempt to use them during a fire or fire emergency.
  • When all persons have evacuated the building, they muse remain outside and at a safe and clear distance away from the building. Have a central meeting place where everyone in your designated group to gather and be accounted for. DO NOT RE-ENTER THE BUILDING. Immediately notify firefighting personnel on the scene.

Fire Safety in our College’s and universities across the United States is a growing concern. Even at the Elon Fire Department, we have first hand seen an increase in fire alarms on campus. The number of cooking-related calls has jumped tremendously over the last few years. The Elon Fire Department and Elon University are working together to try and reduce the number of these cooking-related incidents.

Please visit the U.S. Fire administration link to learn more about Campus Fire Safety.