LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – After the tragic fires in New York and Philadelphia last week, East Texas first responders are urging everyone to remember a simple step that could potentially save lives; shutting all your doors at night.

In many fatal house fires the cause of death isn’t blamed on the flames, but instead on smoke, choking the people who are trapped inside.

“You’re not going to be able to inhale much smoke and still be able to survive,” said Kevin May, Longview Fire Marshall.

Shutting your doors stops the smoke from spreading room to room, giving you more time to escape or call for help.

“Shutting the door is not going to 100% solve the situation, but it is going to slow it down, from getting worse,” said Chris Jackson, the Judson Fire Chief.

Because smoke has the tendency to rise, we are taught to stop, drop and roll, but the most important preventative measure is making sure that you have a working smoke detector.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shared a few tips to help prevent fires and keep people safe. According to the CPSC, more than 2,200 people die each year from unintentional home fires. A working smoke alarm’s warning can cut the risk of dying in your home by almost 50%.

CPSP recommends the following practices: 

  • Install a working smoke alarm on every level of your home, outside, sleeping areas and inside bedrooms
  • Replace smoke alarm batteries once every year.
  • Always stay in the kitchen when cooking. Stand by your pan!
  • Know how to escape if there is a fire in your home. Have a plan and practice it with your family.
  • Replace smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old. They don’t last forever.

The National Safety Council (NSC), a nonprofit organization that is focused on advocating for safety, released helpful tips on fire safety in October during Fire Prevention Week.

Minimize your risks

  • To minimize your risks of starting a fire, the NSC recommends that you stay alert and remain in the kitchen while cooking, to keep the area clear and check on the food regularly.
  • Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended, keep children and pets away from space heaters, place heaters on hardwood floors and consider buying a model that shuts off automatically.
  • For additional fire safety tips, the NSC said to consider implementing a “no smoking” policy in the house, check all cords and replace frayed or bare wires and keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach.

Make an escape plan

  • Have two ways to escape from each room and make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily.
  • Have backup exit routes.
  • Use the stairs and never an elevator during a fire in a multi-story building.
  • Designate an outside meeting place that is a safe distance from the house.

Practice your escape plan

  • Practice closing doors behind you
  • Know how to “stop, drop and roll” if your clothes catch on fire
  • Teach children to never hide and how to escape from a fire on their own if you are unable to help them.

Know when and how to use a fire extinguisher

  • Use if the fire is small, not spreading, and there is not much smoke
  • If your back is to an exit
  • Use if you remember the acronym PASS:
    Pull the pin.
    Aim low at the base of the fire.
    Squeeze the handle slowly.
    Sweep the nozzle side to side.