“The biggest disaster threats to American families aren’t floods, hurricanes or tornadoes – home fires are,” claims the “Home Fire Relief” page on www.redcross.org, “The American Red Cross responds to a disaster every eight minutes and nearly all of these are home fires.”
Even in this modern, relatively technologically advanced world there’s not a whole lot we can do to protect our communities from various natural disasters. A tornado has no conscience and no mercy and it will casually take away our homes and drive-in theaters. At least we’ve reached a point where the people can be protected, even if the buildings and cars sometimes aren’t so lucky.
But more often than not the American home is devastated not by an earthquake, tornado or flood, but by a fire that probably could have been prevented, or at least stopped before it engulfed the whole house.
And with the recent series of fires that has broken out right here in Sedville it’s more important than ever to make sure we are taking the necessary precautions.
The loss of the First United Methodist Church is a tragedy. It was an important religious and historical landmark that held fond memories for countless people in and around Sedalia. Not to mention the fact it was probably one of the most aesthetically interesting buildings in the city.
Most of our homes wouldn’t offer much resistance once a fire really starts going: the underlying structure is probably made out of wood. Our homes are filled with paper, cardboard, clothes and furniture that will all act as kindling until the fire is big enough to start burning and melting the materials that are slightly more fire resistant.
The winds have been whipping up lately and the weather is just going to get drier and warmer in the coming weeks. We could be heading for a very serious fire season if we don’t take certain precautions:
If you’ve got a lot of old newspapers, pine cones for making crafts, sticks for whittling or some piles of sawdust that you’re particularly nostalgic about then it’s definitely a good idea to make sure that they’re not near any ovens, vents or other serious sources of heat.
After you’re done cooking make sure to turn off the stove or any other thing you might have been using that creates heat. In fact, check at least two times to make sure that it’s off — especially after supper. Any electronic device in general you’re not actively using should be turned off and unplugged both to save on your energy bills and to cut down on potential late night electronic fire shenanigans.
If you’ve got an older home or have been experiencing electric issues it might be a good idea to let a qualified person have a quick look around. Sometimes the wires within the walls of the house are conspiring against the house itself and a stray short will have serious consequences.
Make sure your candles are in a place where they can’t be knocked over and extinguish them anytime you’re not going to be close.
Be mindful of the location of all of your lighters, matches and lighter fluid. Don’t store the fluid and the fire creation implements together, or where they can be easily found by children.
Be careful where you toss your half-lit cigarette butts. A trash can fire can be serious, and an outside fire can quickly find some structures to devastate.
Have a plan for extinguishing a small fire, and a plan for evacuating the home if it gets too big.
And most importantly of all, get a smoke alarm. The Sedalia Fire Department is going to be assisting with installing free smoke detectors from from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 30. Call them at 660-826-8044 to schedule your installation.
Let’s all do our part to prevent more of Sedalia from burning down.
Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.