National Fire Prevention week kicked off last Sunday, Oct. 6, though the Neosho Fire Department is spreading the word on fire safety throughout the month of October.
On Friday, firefighters visited the Neosho Christian School, to talk with students about fire escape plans, fire prevention and other safety tips.
Mike Eads, Neosho Fire Chief, said the department is making the rounds to local schools to do the safety presentations through the month of October.
On Friday, Capt. Adrian Hitchcock spoke to NCS students about the importance of having a smoke detector, having a meeting place in the event of a fire, and urged students to never return inside the home in a fire, no matter what is left inside.
A student volunteer also displayed stop, drop and roll for her fellow students, and Firefighter Josh Anderson got dressed in his full gear, showing students what firefighters look like when responding to a fire.
The students also got a close look at two department engines and a rescue truck.
“We go over stop, drop and roll, your exit plans, having a meeting place, some of it’s a refresher for older kids, some of it’s first time,” Eads said. “We also go over the general safety things that we try to encourage kids not to do.”
While the department is educating youth on fire safety in their school visits, Eads also had some fire safety tips for all ages.
“First off, remember to change out your batteries in your smoke detectors,” Eads said. “Also, make sure your chimneys, flues and vent pipes are all cleaned out and free of birds’ nests, or anything like that that might catch fire or plug your systems. That protects you against fire and also against carbon monoxide poisoning.”
Eads also recommends that gas appliances be inspected to make sure they’re operating properly.
He said it’s also important to remember, when burning candles, to keep them away from flammable or combustible items, and to only burn them when home.
With cold weather approaching, Eads said using caution with heating is also key to preventing house fires.
“Watch your space heaters,” Eads said. “Have a safe distance in all directions around your heaters of any kind.”
He said floor heaters should not be covered by anything, including rugs, blankets, or towels, and that the same goes for baseboard electric heat.
Extension cords can also be a hazardous, Eads said, and surge protectors are recommended.
He said it is important that the proper type of cord is used to avoid a fire breaking out.
“Don’t use extension cords if you can keep from it,” Eads said. “If you have to use extension cords, unplug them when you’re not there, use the appropriate size of a cord and then also consider a surge protector or power strip.”
He said it’s also wise to make sure the cord is not pinched or kinked by furniture.
Fire prevention tips also apply to outside fires.
Eads said the most common cause of outside fires that the department is dispatched to at this time of the year is that the fire was left unattended.
Those burning leaves, or having a bonfire, should also keep in mind the city’s outside burning policies.
Eads said if the fire is inside Neosho city limits, it cannot be bigger than 3-by-3 and must be 25-feet away from any structure.
He also recommends that water or some kind of fire extinguisher be kept nearby, and that controlled fires also avoid areas near power lines.
“We encourage everybody, no matter what size it is, to call the fire department and make sure the weather conditions are appropriate and safe to burn,” Eads said. “That also lets us know where all the different small controlled burns are.”
Eads said the key to outside fires is to stay with them at all times and make sure they are small and manageable.
Those wishing to set a larger outside fire must get a permit from the city and are subject to an inspection of their burn site from the fire department, the chief said.
He said outside fires in Neosho are limited to strictly yard waste, such as leaves, sticks, twigs, branches and grass clippings.
Both Eads and Hitchcock stressed the importance of practicing safety drills with family members, including planning a way out of the house in the case of a fire and setting a safe meeting spot outside for the family to gather.
Eads said in the event of a fire, individuals should not hesitate to call for help.
“Always dial 911, call the fire department as quickly as possible,” he said. “Whether you think the fire is or isn’t out, just to be safe.”