“purchase a photoelectric smoke alarm, one
with a hush button or move the alarm farther
away,” Comoletti advises.
Check detectors monthly with the test
button, buy new ones every 10 years (the
manufacture date is on the back) and replace
batteries as necessary.
Don’t forget carbon monoxide detectors—get one for outside each sleeping area
and for every level of your home (better yet,
get a smoke–carbon monoxide alarm combo).
Get out and stay out
Alarms are the first line of defense, but
they’re not much good without an escape plan:
; Identify two ways out of each room.
; Ensure children know how to exit.
; Provide for those who require extra
help (e.g., the elderly and disabled).
; Agree on an outdoor meeting place.
; Phone the fire department from outside.
; Don’t go back in.
Other measures also help. One is home
sprinkler systems, which buy more time. “They
don’t cost any more than upgrading to granite
countertops,” says Mitchell. Fire ladders are “a
last resort,” he notes, because they can be hard
to use. Fire extinguishers are best placed in the
kitchen and garage, but he cautions, “They
aren’t much use unless you find out how to use
them and in what circumstances.”
usfa.fema.gov/citizens for tips on escape plan-
ning, then practice at least twice annually.
So now you’re all set, right?
No, says Costco member Frank Field,
retired health and science editor and meteorol-ogist for a trio of New York television stations.
Alarms and evacuation plans are essential, but
first you must understand fire itself.
“For 50 years, I watched countless reports
of fires,” he says, but what really grabbed his
attention was an article stating the U.S. lagged
behind other countries in fire safety. He realized the scant fire education taught in elementary school left him—and subsequent
generations—ill prepared to deal with fire.
“The kids are enamored of the fire
engines and the hats and the games, and then
it stops,” he laments. “The government spends
millions of dollars to teach college freshmen
fire safety in dorms. That’s a little late. They
should hear it from the get-go.”
Field had crusaded for other causes over
The Costco Connection
Costco and Costco.com carry a variety of
smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as
well as dry chemical fire extinguishers.
the years, notably as an early advocate of the
Heimlich maneuver. At age 65, he spent a
week training with New York City firefighters, producing a five-part series for WCBS-TV
called Plan to Get Out Alive, which demonstrated fire’s terrifying reality (it’s on
Then he and two of his children created
Fire Is …, a video series aimed at grades 5 and
up, vividly illustrating these truths about fire:
It’s black, hot, smoke and gas, fast and an
emergency (view it at
In 2013, the National Association of
State Fire Marshals endorsed the program,
encouraging members to adopt it in their
states. The series and accompanying curriculum are free of charge, in English and
Spanish, and are now used extensively in
New Jersey and some New England schools
as a take-home assignment.
Field concedes Fire Is … is scary, which is
why he recommends that children and care-givers watch it together. But he makes no
apologies for his passion to teach everyone
about the danger of fire, because as he too discovered, “Fires don’t occur mostly in schools.
They occur at home.” C
Penny Musco lives in a first-floor condo
(with enough smoke and carbon monoxide
detectors, of course).
HOME IS WHERE THE FIRE IS
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 69
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