By Nancy Black
They were a typical family gathered at their home to light the grill for a back yard barbeque. Four children, a mom and a dad. The dad lights the grill, it makes a huge poof of flames, and the children dance around with delight. But then a light wind blows through. Sparks fly up from the circular grill and land on the family’s lawn. The lawn is covered with dead grass. Can anyone guess where this story is going? Yes, the family’s back yard burned in a matter of minutes. They are lucky their house didn’t burn down, too.
A few weeks ago, Serenity Apartments was not as lucky. Fire officials determined that an improperly discarded cigarette caused the 5-alarm fire, which displaced more than 68 residents and injured two fire fighters. Serenity was one of our loyal advertisers and had just reopened after a two-year extensive remodeling.
Fire has the power of Mother Nature. Humans do not. In these drought-ridden times, it is more important than ever to take precautions to prevent fires.
If you’re planning a cook-out, make sure your water hose and/or a fire extinguisher is within 10 feet of your grill’s location. If you can’t remember the last time you checked your home’s smoke detectors, it’s time to check them now.
Dallas Fire-Rescue will even come out to your home for free to do a walk-thru inspection and assure your home is properly prepared for the unexpected. They also have those all-important stickers to place on a home’s front windows that alert rescue personal to the fact you have pets in the home.
Here are some other helpful tips from the American Red Cross to keep you and your loved ones safe:
1. Install the right number of smoke alarms. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
2. Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
3. Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.
4. Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.
5. Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire“ to alert everyone that they must get out.
6. Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
7. Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes catch on fire.
With temperatures in May already reaching near triple digits here in Texas, it’s more important than ever to protect your home and community from fires. The back yard blaze that destroyed the family’s yard almost burned down their neighbors’ houses, too. So, scope out the areas around your home for any potential dangers — like old piles of dried debris — that could endanger your property. Check those smoke detectors. And be careful when you fire up that grill. Meat and vegetables are the only things that should be smoking during your backyard barbeque.