Ready U: Smoke alarms, escape plan keys to fire safetyWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Home fires are the most common disaster in the United States — Is your family prepared?
That’s the question Maumee Fire Prevention Chief Brandon Loboschefski will pose at the next Ready U session, focusing on fire safety and prevention.
The free, hour-long presentation, set for 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Maumee Fire Station No. 1, 220 Illinois Ave., is being offered in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 9-15.
Loboschefski, an 18-year veteran firefighter, will discuss three main topics: understanding fire hazards; installing, inspecting and protecting smoke detectors; and the importance of having and practicing an escape plan.
Ready U, a yearlong series presented by the Red Cross of Greater Toledo and the Lucas County Emergency Management Agency, is designed to educate the public and prepare individuals and families for potential emergencies in Northwest Ohio.
Ready U kits and smoke detectors will be given away to the first 50 attendees, said Red Cross Communications Specialist Jason Copsey.
Every year, nearly 3,000 Americans die in home fires, including 153 in Ohio last year, according to the state fire marshal’s website. As of Sept. 29, there have been 93 fire deaths in Ohio in 2011.
More than 75 percent of Ohio’s fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms; having working alarms cuts your risk of dying in a fire by more than half, Loboschefski said.
“What we find is a lot more people have smoke detectors now; however, what we’re finding is more detectors being disabled due to improper placement, improper use and improper maintenance, such as the batteries not being kept up,” Loboschefski said. “We want to make sure people are understanding the importance of smoke detectors and if they need any help getting one or maintaining one, to contact their local fire department.”
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in Ohio, while smoking materials, like matches, cigarettes and lighters, are the leading cause of fatal home fires in Ohio, Loboschefski said.
“If you don’t have a smoke detector, you’re flirting with death,” Loboschefski said. “It’s an extreme risk because fire is fast and it’s black. That’s what people don’t realize, how fast it is, and how black and dark it can become in your home.”
Also as part of Fire Prevention Week, Safe Kids Greater Toledo and area fire departments partner annually to distribute fire escape plans to Lucas County students, who are asked to practice the plans with their family for homework. Schools and classes with the highest participation rates earn awards.
Loboschefski will also touch on arson prevention and carbon monoxide safety during the Ready U session.
“Unfortunately with the arson fires that occur, it affects neighbors,” Loboschefski said. “Even if it’s a vacant home, a fire in a vacant home can spread to an occupied home very quickly, so that’s a scary thing. That’s where we just encourage people to be vigilant in their neighborhoods, knowing what properties are vacant and if they see suspicious activity to report it.”
Toledo Free Press is a media sponsor for the Ready U program.
For more information, visit the website ready-u.com.