by Rob English
I live in a second-floor apartment. If my house catches on fire and the stairs are unsafe to descend, I’ll be fine: I bought a collapsible escape ladder. All I need to do if the stairs aren’t available is throw open a window on the other side of the house, hook the ladder to the sill, and let its steps unfold. Once safely down, I’ll call 911.
Unfortunately, not everyone is prepared for a fire. According to reporting by The Zebra (https://www.thezebra.com/resources/research/house-fire-statistics/) more than 3,000 Americans die in fires each year (FEMA), and every day, at least one child dies from a fire inside the home (Stanford Children’s Hospital).
In CNY winters house fires can happen more often due to heating equipment that malfunctions, in addition to the year-round hazards such as lit candles and faulty electrical equipment.
Animals on farms must also be kept warm in the colder months and barn fires – with the animals inside – happen regularly. In 2021 (just one year!), according to AWI (https://awionline.org/press-releases/more-681000-farm-animals-died-barn-fires-2021), more than 681,000 farm animals died in barn fires. (Much can be done to prevent such awful deaths, including annual inspections of barns by safety experts and by adding sprinkler systems. (Sprinklers are expensive, but the federal government already pays farmers enormous subsidies since 2014 (https://www.ewg.org/interactive-maps/2021-farm-subsidies-ballooned-under-trump/) – why not a bit more for sprinkler systems? Imagine the economic benefits to plumbers and pipe-fitters, and cast-iron pipe and pump suppliers, among others!).
For us, in our homes and schools and workplaces, there is advice available to keep ourselves safe from unfriendly fire. Among the tips, have your heating and electric checked, be very careful about candles, have a good smoke detection system in your home, and have an escape plan with various contingencies. For more comprehensive suggestions see these pages in Spanish (https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Teaching-tools/Safety-tip-sheets/Safety-tip-sheets-in-other-languages) or in English (https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/fief/up_in_smoke_home_checklist.pdf) Central New York has great fire departments throughout. By adhering to these tips, we can help them keep us safe.
Be warm! Be Safe! And pray for me that I never have to use my fire escape ladder!
Rob English is a member of People for Animal Rights, a grassroots organization in Central New York.
Article photos by Skylar Kang and Dennis Butorac from Pexels.
Contact People for Animal Rights
P.O. Box 3333
Syracuse, NY 13220