Thursday, March 3, 2011

Is The House On Fire Or Is Mom Just Cooking Again?

The American Red Cross travels to local companies, organizations, clubs, community centers, churches and just about anywhere else you could think of to present to the community about how to be “Red Cross Ready.” These presentations are to demonstrate what we do at the Red Cross, what an emergency is, and how to be prepared. This would include getting a kit, making a plan, and being informed.

These presentations, however, are not only for you, but for us as well.

The questions and comments open our eyes to what the community is thinking and how we should be focusing the material that is presented. For example, during a presentation at an elementary school, a student asked if they should evacuate the home every time the smoke alarm goes off. This leads me to ask myself the question, what is most kid’s first reaction when the smoke alarm goes off? In the case of my son, he would automatically assume that I was cooking and carry on playing without giving a second thought that there may be a fire. This would seem like common sense however, this perception of smoke alarms was overlooked when presenting to these types of audiences.

So what should be done? Personally, if a smoke alarm wasn’t turned off within a minute, I would then begin to investigate and then proceed to throw a shoe at it if there was in fact no fire. However, we wouldn’t want our children to search for a fire if the smoke alarm wasn’t turned off.

So, how to answer the child’s original question of “does he need to evacuate every time?” I would now respond with: if mom or dad is in the kitchen cooking and the smoke alarm goes off for 20 seconds before they can reset it, then you don’t need to evacuate.  However, if it is 11:00pm, no one is yelling “it’s alright,” and the smoke alarm is going off for more than a minute, then you need to evacuate and go to the outdoor family meeting place.

So be sure to have these conversations with your family.  If no one is on the same page now, it will make an emergency a lot more confusing.  So make Get a kit, make a plan, and be informed!

For more information about training and preparedness courses, please contact us at (559) 455-1000 or visit us on the web at

-Aaron Lloyd, Health & Safety Services Intern