Security bars can help our family be safe, but did you know they can also trap you inside during a fire? Although in recent years, deaths by fires have declined, there has been a dramatic increase in the number and percentage of fire deaths attributed to blocked exits due to security measures intended to protect occupants and their possessions. The fear of being a victim of crime drives many people to install security bars and other devices on their windows and doors without considering how they will escape in the event of a fire.
While they can lock criminals out, home security bars can just as effectively lock residents in and keep firefighters out in an emergency. Ensure your safety by following
these tips when using window and door security bars in your home:
- Know two ways out of every room: one normal route through hallways and stairways and one alternative route through windows or onto the roof.
- Use emergency release devices that have been listed or approved by a nationally recognized research lab like the Underwriters Laboratories inside all barred doors and windows. Quick release mechanisms for security bars enable the user to push the bars open from the inside without affecting the security they afford fromthe outside. These devices can involve pulling a lever, pushing a button, stepping on a pedal or kicking in a lever on the floor.
- Practice your home fire escape plan and make sure that everyone in the household can operate the quick release mechanisms. If young children, older adults, or people with disabilities need extra help with the devices, designate a member of the household to help them, and decide on back-ups in the event that the designated person isn’t home.
- Have working smoke alarms and test them monthly.
Guest Contributor & Article Credits: Fire Marshal Alan Perkins, CFPS (Live Safe Foundation, Liaison to the Fire Department Community) – Alan’s career in the fire service spans more than 30 years. He is a Certified Fire Protection Specialist through the National Fire Protection Association and a member of numerous similar safety organizations. Alan consults with numerous fire departments throughout Ohio and in 2005 was chosen by the Ohio Department of Health as the fire service member on the Ohio School Inspection Advisory Committee. He was also awarded Ohio Fire Official of the Year in 2009 by the Ohio Building Officials Association. Alan is the Fire Marshal for the Washington Township Fire Department in Dublin, Ohio. The Washington Township Fire Department provides fire prevention, fire suppression, emergency medical services, and education and safety programs for Washington Township, which encompasses parts of Franklin, Delaware and Union Counties.
Live Safe Foundation is an Ohio based non-profit organization (501c3), devoted to making and fire and life safety education, awareness initiatives and life saving tools available on a broad basis to communities, campuses, and institutions in an effort to reduce national fire fatalities and fire losses.