Sometimes I wonder if anyone is really reading my tweets and my blog. Then I find out that you not only read them both, but you are actually going to those events that I am talking about. Thank you! I do it for you. I do it for Pasadena. This next post is from my new friend Maria who read one of my tweets and decided to take in a disaster preparation class that I mentioned. Reading her post makes me feel like I should have attended too…Enjoy.
I have a confession: I’ve never used a fire extinguisher. By Maria Rohmer
The embarrassing thing is it never concerned me. Sure there was always one around, and sure, I knew where to find it. But to pick one up and put out a fire where seconds could mean the difference between safety and destruction, life or death? Nope. I could picture myself in a fire situation fumbling with the tank, losing precious time and I didn’t want that on my conscience. The older I got I disliked this fact more. So when I found out about a fire and disaster preparedness training class thanks to Mr. Pasadena’s twitter I decided to do something about it.
My secret shame and I showed up to class at the senior center on Holly Street. The training event was part of a day-long community fair hosted by Leadership Pasadena, a local and superbly run organization. It was attended by members of our local fire department and EMT’s. What resulted was an exchange of helpful and life-saving tips presented by some wonderful teachers sincere in their desire to impart their best advice from years of experience on the job. It was a marvelous success.
Following an initial lecture jam packed with basic (and quite genius) information on ways to begin preparing for possible disaster, classes were split into three training groups. Two groups went outside where one learned about shutting off water and gas lines during disasters. I mean think about it – how many of us even know where to look for this stuff? I didn’t and it just felt unacceptable. These valves are right outside our homes and not impossible to access. They are part of a pool of basic things we need to know to be safe and prepared.
The second group was instructed on how to safely move heavy objects (think felled tree trunks, walls or shelves). Imagine a family member or neighbor getting pinned down and unable to move. How do you safely set about releasing them? Well, thanks to our firemen we learned how. All it takes are a few solid wood blocks, a pry bar, steady hand and good partner (if available) and you can move 4000 lbs or more. Believe it. I saw the demonstration.
The division into smaller groups made for a casual and intimate feel. Participants felt at ease asking questions from the mundane to the very serious. We took notes, we shared information, and we laughed. In spite of the heavy subject I was actually enjoying myself.
The last class was about (tah-dah!) understanding and using fire extinguishers. I faintly remembered fire extinguishers came in different class types. What I didn’t know is they come in 5 different ones: A-B-C-D and K (the newest one). The letters are clearly marked on the appropriate extinguisher to alert users what kind of fire it can put out. If the wrong kind is used on a particular type of fire then it won’t work and can potentially cause a worse fire. A few minutes spent reading a pamphlet online or attending a similar class can make all the difference here. The final part of this class included using a fire extinguisher to put out a mini-fire set up by our instructors. The hands-on approach was meant to remove the intimidation factor. It worked.
I learned operating a fire extinguisher is a simple process. Too simple to be called a process, really. It’s just a matter of following the PASS rule which I’d love to share with you:
Pull the safety pin locking the handle.
Aim the nozzle or hose from a safe distance.
Squeeze the grip handle.
Sweep out the fire with a back and forth “sweeping” motion.
And you’re done. Easy peasy! In fact everything we learned was simple. After our three hour training course I walked out feeling enough confidence that if and when disaster strikes I’ll be part of those able to offer assistance. I’ll have the advantage of information, and I definitely won’t be stuck fumbling with the fire extinguisher. I’ll be part of those finding solutions while emergency crews are busy saving lives.
For information on Leadership Pasadena contact: leadershippasadena.org or 626-577-2296
For information on enhanced disaster training and CPR classes contact: redcross.org or 626-799-0841
For questions about the Senior Center contact: pasadenaseniorcenter.org or 626-795-4331