News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Fire rescue allows woman to avoid too-common fate

Two young men happened to be passing Ann Orr's home on Memorial Drive Northwest on Monday as she frantically sought help to get her mother out of the burning house.

If Jeremy Harris, 19, and Kinte Peterson, 24, had not rushed into the burning structure, Laura Mae Hicks might not be alive today.

Most people who die in house fires succumb to smoke inhalation. Smoke is responsible for three out of four fire-related deaths.

The young men kicked open doors to the smoke- and flame-filled house and found Ms. Hicks on the floor. Smoke was so bad they couldn't retrace their steps and had to carry her out through a window.

While the two young men are heroes, scenes like the one Monday play out across the nation every day. In 2002, someone died in a fire nearly every three hours. Someone suffered a fire-related injury every 37 minutes.

Ms. Hicks' close call should serve as a reminder to everyone to run through the checklist for beating the odds during a fire.

Start with smoke detectors. Make sure they work. Have fire extinguishers mounted in handy places.

Know your exit strategy. Sleep with the bedroom door closed to hold back flames and smoke.

Keep your fireplace, chimney, furnaces and space heaters working properly.

And consider the clothes dryer that should never be left running when no one is home, the overloaded electrical outlets and the kitchen, where more fires start than in any other part of the house.

Don't keep flammable liquids in the house, and watch where you smoke.

Fires are going to start as the result of accidents, carelessness and other factors such as faulty wiring. But each adult will increase the odds of family members not being a fire statistic if they take these precautions.

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