DHEC Recognizes National Fire Prevention Week; Home Safety Tips

As we near the end National Fire Prevention Week, October 3-9, we wanted to highlight some important information.

DHEC’s Fire & Life Safety Section held a special fire extinguisher demonstration in conjunction with this year’s theme – “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety!”

“Our presentation went over fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide, CO2, detectors, as well as utilizing a fire extinguisher to put out an ordinary combustible fire, which is trash, paper, ordinary things you would have in your house,” said Derrick Jones of the Fire & Life Safety Section. “It’s always important to make sure that people understand how a fire occurs, how to prevent a fire, as well as how to evacuate for escape if a fire did occur as well.”

The demonstration included the sounds of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and tips on when to replace them and where they should be located in the house.

“You want to make sure you have detectors in your house because that’s pretty much the first thing that’s going to alert you to if any hazards are going on,” Derrick said.

According to the SC 2020 Fire Fatality Summary Report:

  • In 2020 there were 99 fire fatalities in SC. 18% of these fatalities “did not react or respond” to warning sounds
  • Of the homes with a fatal fire incident in 2020, 39% are categorized as “No Smoke Alarms”

The South Carolina Fire Marshal states there have been 75 fire fatalities so far this. Causes include Electric, Cooking, MVC (Motor Vehicle Collision or Crash), Outdoor Burning, Smoking, Heating, and other causes. 

For more tips and information about smoke detectors and sounds go to NFPA.

The Fire & Life Safety Team’s demonstration also included two types of fire extinguishers, in which participants pointed at a LED screen that simulated a fire. Participants attempted to put out the fire and were instructed on how to do so by the Fire & Life Safety team.

“It’s important to know how to utilize a fire extinguisher because you want to catch it at its incipient stage, the smallest possible stage,” he said. “If it gets beyond that, then 911 becomes into play. We always make sure folks know how to pull the pin on a fire extinguisher, where they recognize the distance that they are from a fire, and also to make sure they are going from left to right and sweeping at the base of a fire.”

Maureen Belton and Myesha Butler of DHEC’s Bureau of Radiological Health participated in the demonstration. They both said they learned key facts about fire extinguishers and how to properly use one in an emergency.

“I never even looked at it, so that was really interesting,” Myesha said. “I know how to check it now. I really like that. “I’m about to tell everybody what I learned.”

“Without these gentlemen showing me, I didn’t know to work from the base of the fire,” Maureen said.

All employees should also be familiar with all potential exits in their facility and the location of their assembly point, said Brian Gootee, Agency Safety Director.

“It is important to go to your assembly point and check in with your supervisor and floor warden for accountability,” he said. “Our general emergency action plans are located on the Safety Committee SharePoint here.”

By promoting and sharing information on how to safely respond to a fire, DHEC demonstrates our core value of Pursuing Excellence and the agency strategy of Education and Engagement. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Other Safety Precautions to be Aware of This Month

October is also a good time to review Earthquake preparedness. The Great Southeast ShakeOut will be Thursday October 21st. Remember to Drop, Cover, and Hold On. 

October ushers in seasonal changes and holidays, too. Remember:

  • Holiday decorations should be placed in a safe manner to not cause fall hazards, trip hazards, or electrical and fire hazards.
  • Avoid placing electrical cords across walkways or make sure they are secure to the surface. Doorways can cause pinch points that may damage cords.
  • Only use UL or ETL certified display items. Use caution when hanging items so that they are secure.
  • Leaves can cause slip hazards wet or dry. Use caution when walking and use handrails when climbing stairs. 
  • Low light conditions and the sun on the horizon during commute times can increase risks while driving. 

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