8 Teens Killed In Chicago Fire Reminds Of Fire Safety

There are some lessons that we all really should remember and put into practice before someone gets hurt.

One of those lessons is about protecting property and family from fires. It should never take a group of kids perishing in a fire to remind us to pay attention to our smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in our homes.

Amidst all the shootings every week, Chicagoans seem to get complacent about fires in lieu of firearms.

It was a simple safety issue such as smoke detectors that led to the deaths of eight teenagers in a house fire in Chicago recently, with two other teens in critical condition in the hospital after suffering burns and smoke inhalation. The fire started in the rear of the house and there was a clear exit out of the house, but smoke detectors in the home were not functioning, so there was no alarm sound to wake up the teens so they could get out of the house.

This incident brought to mind reminders for everyone about basic fire safety in the home, which means taking care of smoke detectors:

  • Check them every month to make sure they are functioning, and the proper alarm sound goes off.
  • Change the batteries every six months, even if they never get used.
  • Make sure there is a smoke detector in every bedroom and on every level of the house, including basements and attic spaces that are livable.
  • In addition, make sure there is a fire door that leads from the garage or carport into the house and ensures it closes properly and can be locked.

The two surviving teens are fighting for their lives, and they will likely have a lot of work to do to get healthy again, assuming they get out of the woods and recover. Not only are there battles with internal injuries, but it’s likely that the teens will need some help with their skin, as fire and smoke  have likely scarred and discolored their skin and the work will require skin grafts as well as other post-op therapies such as what might be offered as dermatology clinics similar to Unique Dermatology and Wellness, which usually have the latest therapies to restore the skin as close to normal as possible in the wake of such a horrific  event.

It is a long road to recovery for those teens who survived. For the community, this tragedy is a stark reminder of how a simple preventive act like checking smoke detectors for functionality can be a huge difference between everyone getting out alive, and having eight promising young lives snuffed out before they even have a chance to start impacting our world.

Even one life lost is too many if it could have been avoided.

WHY WILDFIRES ARE SO HARD TO CONTAIN

Wildfires are sort of a double-edged sword. Of course, they are most notorious as a destructive force, burning properties and vibrant trees and brush anywhere and everywhere in their paths.

On the other side, wildfires can be very cleansing to the area in the aftermath, as the ashes left behind serve as food and fertilizer for the rebirth of the area, as has been seen in several western states following massive fires.

No matter which side you fall on, wildfires that are active do put a lot of land, property, structures and human lives at great risk, and they often demand massive firefighter response to contain and eventually extinguish them so as to eliminate the risk to property and human life.

But do you notice that even as the fire grows and as personnel comes onto the scene to fight the blaze, that these wildfires are ultimately difficult to contain even after all of the firefighting assets are in place and doing the work?

Fire, especially when it grows beyond a campfire or fireplace, starts to take on its own personality – humanlike in that it can be unpredictable and create its own environment in which to thrive. And often, firefighters have to think “like the fire” and “be” the fire in order to stay safe and be able to successfully fight it and subdue it.

What makes a wildfire so difficult to contain? We can look at the Mendocino Complex fire in California, which was still burning as the largest wildfire in California’s history. A fire this large will have many factors in its favor to keep burning for a while, even as fire crews have continued to fight the blaze for the better part of a month now.

  • The challenge is that firefighters need less heat and more humidity, but most wildfires occur in seasons when it is dry and hot. Those conditions have prevailed most of the time at Mendocino Complex, though firefighters have gotten breaks with increased humidity at night recently.
  • Many wildfires don’t burn in flat area with little or no brush. They are often in very rugged, mountainous, and sometimes dense forest land. The kind of terrain that is very difficult for humans and vehicles to get to, and forests are obviously ripe areas to add fuel to a fire.
  • Wind can change on a dime, which is why were put it separate from weather. Whether humid or dry, rainy or sunny, the existence or non-existence of wind can dramatically affect a fire. A gust from the south one minute can push a fire into a barrier, while a flip to the east could send the fire right into structures or help it jump over a highway or other roadway.
  • Self-weatherizing. As fires get bigger, not only do they develop their own personality, but they become their own weather system. As they take up a lot of land, it can perpetuate itself into expansion by drying out the air and the ground around it, increasing the temperature of the area, and as creating its own wind I the direction is “wants” to go. This is where firefighters have the most difficulty; getting into the “mind” of a fire to understand its weather “pattern” and try to predict where it might go next.

As you can see and imagine, there are so many variables that are difficult to predict and overcome. These are the reasons that wildfires grow and are so hard to contain – and why they are such a destructive force in the western U.S.

How Smoke From Fires Can Affect Your Health

According to the New York Department of Health, smoke released from any type of fire, whether it’s forest, brush, crop, buildings, waste or wood) is a mixture of particles and chemicals. Substances found in smoke include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and particle matter (soot). Other chemicals found in smoke include aldehydes, acid gases, nitrogen and sulfur dioxides, benzene, toluene, and so much more. The particles released depend on what is burning, at what temperature and how much oxygen is available.

The biggest health threat from smoke is the aforementioned particle matter being released. These microscopic particles can enter your body through your lungs, your eyes and your nose. This can lead to a myriad of health problems including but not limited to:

  • runny nose
  • burning eyes
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
  • chest pains
  • palpitations
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • long-term lung and heart diseases
    • Angina
    • Asthma

If you live in areas that have smokey areas such as California, safety protocols including setting up carbon monoxide monitors and having in-home respirators. In the event that you are in an area that suddenly sparks a fire, leaving the premises in an orderly fashion and finding a safe area away from the smoke is the best course of action.

If you feel that you are suffering from any of the aforementioned symptoms it is imperative to speak with a healthcare professional.

What Is Arson?

According to a criminal defense attorney Odessa, arson is the intentional and malicious act of burning or setting fire to another person’s property. Property includes and is not limited to homes, cars,  boats, machinery, and especially those who own farms – the unlawful burning of land.

As part of the Gravenhurst Fire Department, we spend a lot of time investigating fires and determining the cause of the fire. To determine in the fire was due to arson we look at the following things:

  1. Intent – in order for it to be considered a crime, the person must have the intent of destroying the property. Accidental fires happen all the time but that doesn’t lead to arson charges.
  2. Property Damage – in order for it to be classified as arson property must be damaged.
  3. Means Of Starting Fire – in order for it to be considered arson, the suspected arsonist must have means of starting a fire such as a match, lighter or explosives. Our elite law enforcement units use special chemical analysis to help determine the point of origin of the fire.

It’s also important to know that people who burn their own property to collect on insurance policies may be charged with arson as well as insurance fraud.

Depending on where you live arson is either a misdemeanor or a felony. The degree of the crime varies based on the risk of potential injury, the type of property burned, the amount of property that was damaged.

For example, an arsonist will be charged with a higher degree of arson if they burn down a building that was occupied versus burning down a building that was abandoned because the risk of potential injury is higher.

Sometimes determining whether or no the fire was due to arson can be difficult which is why we rely on our community members to help us. If you see anything suspicious at the onset of a fire such as someone fleeing the scene call 911 and report it immediately.

Fire Safety: Tips for Residential Houses

A house fire is not something you ever expect to happen. House fires can strike at any time of the day whether it’s the middle of the night or the afternoon. Even if you do everything in your power to prevent a house fire, you can’t totally prevent one from happening. If a fire occurs in your house, one of the most important things to keep in mind is to remain calm. Panicking can add to the chaos and create confusion. Also, it is important that you get yourself to safety and alert the authorities before helping others.

Some of the top causes of house fires are cooking equipment, heating, smoking in bedrooms, electrical equipment, and candles. All of these things have one thing in common and that’s fire. The best way to prevent a house fire is to take care of the little things. Make sure the stove is off when it is unattended, if you smoke, make sure your cigarette is out when you are finished, or if you’re leaving the house, make sure candles are out.

Tips for Residential Housing Fire Safety

House fires are very dangerous and claim dozens of lives each year. It is important that each household has a plan in place in the event of a fire. Everyone living in the house should be aware of the exits and know where to meet up with the family once they leave the home. We have put together a list of tips that will help you keep safe during a house fire below.

1. Don’t be lazy, react to the smoke alarm

We all know of a time or two when the fire alarms inside the house went off and we ignored it because the alarm probably had low batteries at the time or someone was cooking and the smoke caused the alarm to go off. While our reaction, or lack thereof, was okay in that scenario because there wasn’t actually a fire, a lazy reaction can be the difference between life and death in an actual fire.

When you hear the fire alarm going off in our house, get up and begin to investigate. These alarms are in our house for a reason. If the alarms are ringing, it’s more likely than not for a reason.

2. Exit through doors

The safest way to exit the house is through doors. Before you leave a room, feel the door with the back of your had. If the door is hot, the fire is likely near. If the door is cool, you are safe to exit the room and exit the house. Also, if you see smoke under the door, the fire is likely following close behind. Use an alternate exit if there is one.

3. Avoid smoke inhalation

How can you avoid smoke inhalation when the house is on fire? Stay low and cover your mouth with a cloth of some kind. Smoke inhalation can not only do damage to your lungs, but you may faint as a result of breathing in too much smoke.

If you find yourself trapped in a room with no exits, this tip will come in handy. Cover any vents or openings (the bottom of the door) in order to prevent smoke from coming into the room. In an extra effort, keep your mouth and nose covered with some sort of cloth. Smoke rises, so it’s important you keep your body as low as possible while you wait for help.

4. Stop, Drop, and Roll!

While we often catch ourselves casually joking around about the stop, drop, and roll technique, it can come in handy in a fire. If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll is a proven method and will extinguish the fire.

5. Call for Help from a Second Story Window

If you are in a two story house, call for help from the second floor. It is important to let the fire department or other household members know that you are still stuck in the house.

If there is no other way of escaping, you can try going out the window. Look for a ledge or something lower that you can hang on to. It is important that you face the house and extend your body as far down as you can before letting go. This is not the best option and should be the last thing you consider. If the fire still has not reached the room you’re in, it is best to wait for help.

6. After you safely exit the house, take a head count and call emergency services

You have finally safely exited the house. Now your job is over, right? Wrong. If you are the first person out of the house, get a head count and call 911 or the emergency services. Do not go back into the residence unless it is safe to do so. Entering a burning building can be difficult to navigate and should be left to the professionals.

Fire Safety: Tips for High-Rise Apartment Redsidents

One of the biggest threats to your life in a high-rise apartment can be a fire. After all, high-rise fires have been the result of many catastrophes in American history; claiming chunks of lives in one foul swoop. The smallest spark can have a life of its own, quickly growing into a blaze that’s engulfing the building. The scent of smoke and the roar of the flames rushing through the halls of the building will send high-rise dwellers into panic mode.

If you live in a high-rise apartment building, don’t take fire safety lightly. Even if you are a cautious person, another person living in the same building may be careless. In the event of a fire, remember to stay calm and think before you act.

Fire Safety Tips

We have gone ahead and put together a list of fire safety tips from sources like Insurance Information Institute. While some of these tips are specific to high-rise fires, most of them can be applied across platforms.

  • DON’T PANIC!
    • I know, it seems insane telling someone in the middle of a fire not to panic. Staying calm will help you think straight and remember the tips to come.
  • Even if the smoke is light in the apartment, don’t stand up.
    • While the smoke may not seem thick, inhaling it can be detrimental to your chances of survival. Cover your mouth and stay low.
  • Personal belongings aren’t worth it.
    • Don’t bother gathering all of your personal belongings. The only thing you should make sure to grab is your keys because you may need to turn back if the fire is blocking the stairwell.
  • Feel the door before opening it.
    • Use the back of your hand to feel if the door is hot. If the door is hot, do not open the door, the fire is right outside. If the door is not hot, use the door to exit your apartment. Then find the nearest staircase and exit the building.
  • If you’re unable to leave your apartment, wait for help.
    • If the fire is right outside your door, do your best to cover and vents or crevices that the smoke can seep through. The fire department even suggests putting wet towels or sheets at the base of your doors.
  • Don’t jump!
    • I repeat, DON’T JUMP. This is an important one. When you jump out of the window, not only will you supply the fire with more oxygen, but you might not survive the fall.

We hope that you will remember some of these tips if you’re ever involved in a high-rise fire. Always remember to practice fire safety. While another person may not, you can sleep easy knowing that you are doing your part to keep the building safe.

Common Causes of House Fires

If you’ve ever said to yourself “it’ll never happen to me” about anything, then watch out. Life has a way of surprising us, and no one’s invincible. Sometimes fires can spread because of nature, sometimes because of careless personal accidents or sometimes because of the negligence of our next door neighbors. It’s important to be prepared, and fire is like everything else: sometimes knowledge is power. These are some of the common causes of house fires, so read on to see if you’re making any mistakes that could leave you homeless.

Distraction is the number one cause of house fires. This can remain true in several situations. If you’re a lover of candles, you need to remain absolutely vigilant. If candles are left near flammable materials, a fire may result. However, sometimes store-bought candles come in glass containers. These can crack or break, spilling wax and flame all over the place. Make it a routine to keep candles burning for only so long, then extinguish them. You’re giving your body a break, too: left burning for hours on end, candles can be carcinogenic.

People are also prone to distraction while they cook. We live in an era of kitchen TVs and smartphones that force our attention away from the task at hand. Cooking fires can be even more dangerous because people don’t know how to properly extinguish them. First, extinguish the source of the flame. If you’re cooking with oil or grease, do not use water to put out the flame! Cover the fire with another pot or pan, or, alternatively, dump baking soda on it. For larger fires, use salt!

These two causes of house fires can also result in a pretty terrible burn injury. If you get hurt while trying to put out a fire, seek medical attention right away.

Smoking is also a great way to distract yourself. Many smokers don’t pay attention to where the cigarette lands after they flick it away, and this leads to a number of unexpected fires. Try to smoke outside, and be sure to have a dedicated waste receptacle for cigarette butts.

It’s important to do routine spot checks of any electrical device you own. Make sure the wiring isn’t frayed or defective. All it takes is a single spark to burn your house down, and you’d be surprised how common those sparks can be–especially if you own pets that like to chew on things when you’re not looking. Avoid using water on electrical fires. These are best extinguished by removing the oxygen, but remember to pull the plug first.

If you have kids, teach them about fire safety as early as possible. Inquiring minds want to know, and even as adults–fire can be awesome. For kids, the urge is even worse. How does this burn? How does that burn? Teach them how to get out of the house, and try to keep matches or other fire starting devices well out of reach.

What Is The Crime of Arson?

Like any law currently on the books, the crime of arson might not be as simple as it sounds. This is especially true because the extent of the damage might not be apparent at first glance. There’s a difference between setting fire to a single tree in the middle of the forest versus burning someone’s home down. How the crime of arson is treated also depends on the region where the crime is committed, and other factors that may determine the legal outcome of arson involve degree of severity.

Usually, firefighters called to the scene will be able to quickly determine whether or not the fire was accidental or intentional. This is because most arsonists will use an accelerant to help feed the fire.

First of all, the crime of arson assumes you deliberately and/or maliciously set a fire with the intention to damage property. This can include privately owned homes, vehicles, or other property, but it can further extend to government parks or forests. If you set fire to a home that has been abandoned, you’ve still committed arson. If the fire you set was accidental, then you may not be charged with arson. In such a case, it’s important you find yourself an experienced lawyer like the ones at Barket Epstein to help you navigate the complicated laws that will help govern your case to conclusion.

It’s also worth noting that if arson results in the death of another, the perpetrator will likely be charged with murder. Sometimes peoples think they can circumvent the law by burning their own property in an attempt to collect insurance payouts, but an arson charge still applies.

The degree of severity is usually divided into several classes of intent. First-degree arson generally refers to the setting of a fire in an occupied building, whether that building has one or more occupants. This charge is more likely when someone inside a building has been injured or killed as a result of the blaze. Second-degree arson results from the burning of an unoccupied building. If a building has been abandoned or is not in use, then an arsonist will likely be charged in the third degree. There are other degrees depending on where one lives.

In addition to the degree of severity, other labels may be used to categorize the crime. Arson may be charged as a misdemeanor, a felony, or prosecuted as criminal mischief. Some areas differentiate between accidental, reckless, and intentional setting of fires. This is why fire safety is so important; if you’re not careful, you may be charged with reckless burning of property because of your negligence.

How Does Smoke Affect Your Lungs

The last half-century has been an incredible time for the medical community, and certainly for those whose lives have been saved by the advances of medicine and surgical offerings. We’ve learned a lot about how certain foreign objects or particles affect our bodies, for better or worse, and we’re learning more everyday. The next decade promises to bring advancements that most of us can’t even imagine. Even with all the changes, smoke inhalation is still extremely dangerous. These are just a few of the ways in which smoke affects your lungs.

First, it’s important to know what kind of smoke you’ve inhaled. Smoking is obviously harmful to your overall health, and can shave years off your life. Because of lung-related diseases, cancers, and other related ailments that crop up over time, taking a single breath in your later years can become a grueling challenge.

Smoking doesn’t just damage your lungs, though. It affects your brain and heart as well, and negatively impacts your entire body. It has an adverse effect on blood circulation, which leads to a number of cardiovascular conditions. These include heart attack, coronary heart disease, damaged blood vessels, and damaged arteries. This can also cause stroke, which can result in major brain damage and leave you severely disabled for the rest of your life. Smoking can also increase your chances of developing a life-threatening brain aneurysm. When these abnormalities in the brain-based blood vessels pop, many people do not survive. They are extremely dangerous, and the likelihood of occurrence will only go down if you quit smoking for five years.

Smoking can reduce your fertility, irritate and age your skin, weaken your bones, cause bad breath, stain your teeth, and increase the chance of stomach or lung cancer. The list is endless, and only you can protect yourself from these side effects.

Second-hand smoke can have similar effects. So can simple wood-burning smoke. In fact, studies have shown that wood-burning stoves can adversely impact your health as well. The normal signs of poor health from other kinds of smoke include lesser symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and asthma, but also can include more serious conditions like heart attack and lung cancer. Like smoking cigarettes, they reduce the number of years you have left. This is because burning wood or other materials releases the pollution that those materials have stored inside. Burning wood releases dangerous carbon monoxide and other air toxins that can be extremely hazardous to your health.

No matter the type of smoke inhaled, you should be aware that you’re increasing your chances of mild short-term health problems and dangerous long-term health conditions. In order to reduce these chances, do not smoke, and avoid casual burning of wood or other materials.

Here is a video showing how smoking affects your lungs:

What To Do If Your Neighbor’s House Is On Fire

One of the most terrifying events imaginable is the destruction of property–or even life–in a fire. Even if everyone makes it out okay, you know that many of your cherished memories and probably some valuables are gone forever. There are some things that insurance money simply cannot replace. Even though this possibility is scary, sometimes knowing that it’s happening to people you care about is just as bad. What happens when you look next door and there’s smoke pouring from inside your neighbor’s house? It can be difficult to know what to do during a time of panic, and you’ll want to know how to help the most.

First, don’t assume that someone else will call 911. Don’t wait in an effort to find out if it’s already been done, either. Do it yourself, and do it right away. Second, do not put yourself in danger. Legally, it’s best to help from outside. Putting yourself in harm’s way could make the problem even worse. If your neighbors escape through the back door but you go in the front, someone might then come looking for you. Keep in mind that if any help you provide actually results in more damage to the property or even surrounding homes, you might be liable for whatever your neighbor’s insurance does not cover. Even if you’re just trying to help, you have to think about your own wellbeing too.

Things can get more complicated the bigger the fire becomes, especially in a densely packed residential area. Sometimes a fire will move from one home to the next, and in this case liability becomes a primary concern for everyone affected. If your own home was damaged because of a fire at a neighbor’s home, then be sure to document the area as best you can, and provide a full report of whatever happened to the authorities. After that, submit a request to your own homeowners insurance. They might cover some of the damages, or they might hassle your neighbor’s insurance company to cover the costs. Either way, it shouldn’t remain your responsibility.

The same is true if your neighbor’s negligence caused your own home to catch fire. In the worst case it could turn into a criminal issue, but that’s for the authorities to decide. Do your best to provide a true and unbiased accounting to any questions you might be asked by police or insurance investigators. These questions might be extremely uncomfortable, but they’ll save everyone a lot of trouble down the road.

That’s it. There’s not much you can do if your neighbor’s house is on fire. Call the authorities, provide whatever first aid you can a safe distance away from the burning home, and let firefighters do their work. Then again, if your neighbors ask for your garden hose–turn on the water.

Here is a video of someone’s neighbor’s house on fire – quite a scary event!