According to the U.S. Fire Administration (a division of FEMA), over 3,500 Americans die every year in fires (18,300 more are injured), and most of these fires sadly, and perhaps shockingly, occur in their own home.
Tragic Death of Electrical Expert David Mugerditchian Should Serve As Needed Reminder to Families Everywhere About the Need to Check for Home Fire Safety
David Mugerditchian, 60, of Des Plaines, was the victim of a horrific fire and explosion at his home on Monday and after suffering burns over 96% of his body, he passed away last evening. In an ironic turn of events, Mr. Mugerditchian was an expert on this sort of thing: he had made his living for many years as an electrical inspector, employed by the City of Des Plaines and earlier by Underwriter’s Laboratories.
The cause of the explosion and fire are not yet known; neighbors heard the explosion early that morning, a little after eight o’clock. Mr. Mugerditchian was found in the backyard, unable to explain exactly what happened. All that Hoffman Estates Fire Department investigators know for now is that this was an accident.
By all accounts, David Mugerditchian was a fine man, a hero who once saved a man from a burning building, who is respected by his colleagues and beloved by friends and family. Our sincerest condolences go out to all who are grieving this untimely passing.
His story should serve as a reminder to families in our area of the importance of fire safety in our homes. From the USFA come the following suggestions.
Please take the time to consider the following for your family:
Every Home Should Have at Least One Working Smoke Alarm
Buy a smoke alarm at any hardware or discount store. It’s inexpensive protection for you and your family. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. A working smoke alarm can double your chances of survival. Test it monthly, keep it free of dust and replace the battery at least once a year. Smoke alarms themselves should be replaced after ten years of service, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Prevent Electrical Fires
Never overload circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them professionally repaired or replaced.
Use Appliances Wisely
When using appliances follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Unplug appliances when not in use. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.
Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
Keep fire in the fireplace. Use fire screens and have your chimney cleaned annually. The creosote buildup can ignite a chimney fire that could easily spread.
Kerosene heaters should be used only where approved by authorities. Never use gasoline or camp-stove fuel. Refuel outside and only after the heater has cooled.
Affordable Home Fire Safety Sprinklers
When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Sprinklers are affordable – they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.
Plan Your Escape
Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help.
Caring for Children
Children under five are naturally curious about fire. Many play with matches and lighters. Fifty-two percent of all child fire deaths occur to those under age 5. Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching your children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
Caring for Older People
Every year over 1,000 senior citizens die in fires. Many of these fire deaths could have been prevented. Seniors are especially vulnerable because many live alone and can’t respond quickly.
For more information, you can download and review a series of Fire Safety Publications from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, available online for free.
Defective products, faulty wiring, and other man-made causes of fire are notorious as causing home fires as well as being the subject of personal injury claims. It’s much better to be safe than sorry, to prevent a home fire rather than being the victim of one and perhaps the plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking justice because of tragedy caused by a preventable fire.
Be safe out there.