|Updated: 5/10/2012 8:11 am
||Published: 5/09/2012 11:52 am
LITTLE ROCK, AR - "I'm just like the little old lady in the shoe," laughed Gladys McKay. That's because her house is usually full of her 18 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. McKay thinks her family is prepared for a fire.
"I'm pretty sure that we could get out pretty safe if anything should happen," she said.
Just this spring four children and their mother died in a Jacksonville duplex fire. So how can you really know if your family is safe from a tragedy like that?
We brought in the experts - and their home fire safety checklist - to the McKay home. Little Rock Fire Department Captain Dennis McCann spotted a problem immediately.
"I see you're boiling these eggs," he told McKay. "If that handle was turned that way, a small child could pull that down and you've got a problem."
Captain McCann spotted other checklist problems too: McKay didn't have a smoke detector in every bedroom, and she didn't have any carbon monoxide detectors at all. Then Captain McCann gave McKay some tips she didn't expect.
"We advise you don't even use candles," he said, "especially if you have children in the house." McKay says she lights candles all the time.
Also, Captain McCann says it's incredibly important that everyone sleep with their doors closed.
"Most fatalities happen at night when we're asleep," he said, "and that's simply because the smoke will get into their room."
To which McKay replied, "that's been my thing, you know, during the course of raising my children. Leave the doors open!"
Captain McCann stressed the need for a home escape plan too, especially with all of McKay's grandchildren.
"You need to practice your home plan at least twice a year," he explained. "Do it at different times a day. Do it at day time. Do it at night. Get on the floor and crawl through your house with your grandchild, with your kids and make sure everyone knows how to get out."
Overall, McKay's home is in pretty good shape in the event of a fire and it earned a lot more checks than x's on the checklist. Nevertheless, between the missing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, the candles, and the kids sleeping with their bedroom doors open ... "I've learned a lot about safety tips, and my house wasn't that safe after all," said a surprised McKay.
Here's another problem: many kids will sleep right through a blaring smoke alarm. So if you want to keep your home extra safe, there are products you can purchase, like the vocal smoke detector. They actually use a recording of the parents' voice to sound the alarm.
Captain McCann uses them in his home. He tested one on his sleeping granddaughter Kristen. First, he used a standard smoke detector.
"I held one over her head, it wasn't even on the ceiling, and I pushed the button and it made that beeping noise very loud, it would make most people up," McCann said, "but she didn't move."
Then McCann tested the vocal smoke detector.
"When she heard her mother's voice she woke up immediately so it did work."
We couldn't find any vocal smoke detectors currently in production, but you can still find them for sale on sites like Amazon.com for $25 to $50. McCann says that's a small price to pay to make sure your home -- and more importantly your family -- is prepared to survive a fire.
If you're interested in having a home fire safety survey conducted at your house and you live in Little Rock, all you have to do is call the Little Rock Fire Department Fire Marshal's office at 501-918-3710. They say they'll do their best to help you out -- free of charge.