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Fire safety for the New Year | GUEST COLUMN
The holidays are a time for families and friends to get together, but that also means you may be at greater risk for fire. Whether you are getting ready to do some holiday entertaining at home or headed out to ring in the New Year, the State Fire Marshal’s Office suggests following these simple tips to ensure a celebration that is both festive and fire-safe:
• Test your smoke alarms and tell guests about your home fire escape plan.
• Keep children and pets away from lit candles.
• Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
• Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop.
• Ask smokers to smoke outside. Provide deep ashtrays and wet cigarette butts with water before discarding.
Nightclubs and Other Public Assembly Buildings
Before you enter
• Is the building in a condition that makes you feel comfortable? Is the main entrance wide and does it open outward to allow easy exit? Is the outside area clear of materials that may block exits?
• Have a communication plan. Identify a relative or friend to contact in case of emergency.
• Pick a meeting place outside to meet family or friends if there is an emergency.
• Look for all available exits and be prepared to use the closest one.
• Make sure aisles are wide enough and not obstructed by chairs or furniture. Check to make sure your exit door is not blocked or chained.
• Are there fire sources such as candles burning, cigarettes or cigars burning, pyrotechnics, or other heat sources that may make you feel unsafe? Are there safety systems in place such as alternative exits, fire sprinklers, and smoke alarms?
During an emergency
• If an alarm sounds, you see smoke or fire, or other unusual disturbance, exit the building immediately.
• Once you are out, stay out. Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. Let trained firefighters conduct rescue operation.
• If you want to ring in the New Year with fireworks, the safest way is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals.
• If you purchase fireworks, be sure they are legal to possess and discharge. Know the dates and times fireworks are allowed in your community.
• Talk with family members and guests about the fireworks laws for your area. Laws restricting or banning the use of fireworks in cities and counties are listed on the fireworks website at http://www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/docs/fireworks/ordinances.pdf.
• Stay away from illegal explosive devices such as M80’s and M100’s. These items are not fireworks, they are illegal explosive devices. The damage they cause can be devastating and life altering. Fireworks and alcohol are a dangerous combination.
For more information about fire safety, visit the State Fire Marshal website at www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/firemars.htm.
The Office of the State Fire Marshal is a Bureau of the Washington State Patrol, providing fire and life safety services to the citizens of Washington State including inspections of state licensed facilities, plan review of school construction projects, licensing of fire sprinkler contractors and pyrotechnic operators, and training Washington State’s firefighters.