Monday, February 17, 2014

Fire Safety in the Snow

Many of us take fire safety within our homes very seriously.  We check the smoke detectors twice a year, keep extinguishers on hand, and act diligently to reduce fire hazards around the house, such as fixing loose electrical cords, keeping candles and matches away from flammable items and out of the reach of children, and observing safe cooking practices.

Our family has an escape plan that we have practiced and gone over enough that the neighbor isn't surprised anymore when we all show up breathlessly on her doorstep.  Henry and Ben don't need any practice crawling through the house, but we've done that anyway, as well.  We've even talked about what we take with us (nothing) and who the kids are responsible for looking for (no one) in the instance that we need to get out quickly.

Up until recently the only outside fire safety we've considered is making sure out address is visible from the street, so that rescue crews can locate us quickly if necessary.  This recent snow storm, however, brought up a piece of advice that I had not heard of before: digging out the fire hydrant. Seconds count in a fire emergency. If your home or a neighbor's home is on fire, you don't want to waste the time it takes for the fire fighters to locate and access the closest fire hydrant!
clear three feet on each side

Fire hydrants need to be cleared of snow three feet on each side and to the road.  This will allow emergency personnel easy access to the life-saving, property-saving water inside.  Adopting your nearest fire hydrant will help keep your home safe as well as the homes of those around you.  While you are digging out your sidewalk and driveway, please look around for the fire hydrant buried in the snow and take care of that too.

Saturday morning Frances, Henry, and I grabbed some shovels, a rake, and our ruler (from the fire department, of course) and headed across the street.  Frances got to work with a shovel, while Henry preferred the "dig like a dog" method.  I used our snow shovel to clear out the space in front of the hydrant towards the road.  That part was fairly easy compared to the effort it took to shovel the snow off of the grass.  I found that an up and down chopping motion was useful to loosen up the snow and then I could scoop it up and toss it aside. We stopped to measure a few times and kept working til we cleared the required 3 feet on all sides.
The kids were pretty proud of their hard work after we finished.  And we all feel good knowing that we've made our neighborhood a little bit safer.

Do you know where the closest fire hydrant to your house is?  Do you take care of it in the snow?

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