Get out and stay out
Russell, retired emergency planner for Washington County, presents fire-safety with Washington County Sheriff Department.
He will talk about fire prevention at a free seminar Tuesday, May 4 at the Washington County Division of Fire and Emergency Services, 16232 Elliott Parkway, off Greencastle Pike north of Williamsport. The public is invited.
A lot of fire prevention is simple, common sense.
"When there's a fire, don't panic," he emphasized. "The question to ask is 'Where am I now and where is my out?' Get out and stay out. There's nothing in your house that's worth your life. Except another person."
Russell said he's seen people go back into their burning house to retrieve something. Too many times, he said, they don't come back out again.
Ask the expert to visit
Russell said most fires are caused by things people do. They run too many extension cords from one electrical outlet. They pile papers too close to a radiator or woodstove. They leave cigarettes burning.
Some of these things are easy for homeowners to overlook. But invite a firefighter to your house and they notice potential dangers.
"Most fire companies in this county will do a fire inspection for you," Russell said. "They inspect the house and make notes. It helps the resident, but it also helps the fire company - they get to see what might face them if the house catches fire."
Fire companies might note things like whether a house contains specialized medical equipment, where interior doors are, or whether there are children or pets in the house.
They'll also suggest ways to improve fire safety. Are smoke detectors up to date? Are gasoline and other flammables stored safely?
But if tragedy strikes, Russell said, have a backup plan. If the family has to leave a burning house, have a place to meet.
"The homeowners who live in the house should have an assembly point so they can meet when they leave the house," he said.
If you go ...
WHAT: "Putting Out That Fire!" fire safety seminar
WHEN: 1:30 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, May 4
WHERE: Washington County Division of Fire and Emergency Services, 16232 Elliott Parkway, Williamsport. Please use lower rear entrance.
COST: Free and open to the public.
CONTACT: Call the Washington County Sheriff Department at 240-313-2100.