Knowing what to do in a fire saves lives
Seventeen people have died in fires across the state this year, according to the Fire Marshall's office. As tragic as the statistics are, firefighters say nearly all fire deaths are preventable. It's a message they're trying to get out to the youngest Alaskans during Fire Prevention Month in October.
Anchorage Firefighters are in hundreds of Anchorage classrooms this month teaching fire safety, according to AFD Captain Matt McSorley. McSorley said children are taught what to do if a fire happens in their home -- where most fire fatalities occur. McSorley said children should never ignore a fire or smoke detector alarm, instead, he said, they should be taught to go directly to their bedroom doors.
"They're going to check the door for heat and then we teach them to open the door, peek out and see if the hallway is clear of smoke," said McSorley.
McSorley said a closed door can prevent toxic smoke from coming in, which is why they recommend bedroom doors stay shut when people are sleeping.
If a hallway looks safe, children should get out fast and stay low to the ground. If there are smoke and flames, McSorley, said it's better to stay inside the room and keep the door closed.
McSorley suggested families practice opening their bedroom windows and crawling through. If windows are higher up, children can throw out a toy for firefighters to see.
"It's going to land on the ground and look really out of place," said McSorley. "And if I see that on the ground it's going to key me in instantly that we need to get a ladder to that window and rescue someone."
One of the most important things that families can do, according to McSorley, is to have a meeting place that everyone knows to go to immediately.
"This is critically important because many people have been killed going back into a house because they think their pet is in there or their family member is still inside when really they are all out of the house."
McSorley said those types of deaths are the most preventable when families have a plan in place.