Last week, the Marlinton Volunteer Fire Department responded to a fire in the Riverside area. It was a stark reminder of basic rules that can save lives and prevent property damage. Please make a mental note and analyze your own home surroundings and that of your community, wherever that is. First – do you have a plan? Good housekeeping is a good start and is an important part of reducing fire risk. Next, have a place for your family members and everyone in the house to meet in the event of a house fire.

Now, consider this, the reason for this article: In the event of a house fire or a fire near your house, make sure your exit path is free of debris and clutter. Furthermore, accumulations of combustible scrap materials and trash can provide the main ingredient for a fire. Any additional fuel source can contribute to major fire development in a matter of minutes.

Additionally, accumulations of old clothes, wood and trash can be trip hazards with a house full of smoke. Flammable materials, sometimes even dust, can increase the likelihood of a flash fire or secondary explosion after the original ignition.

Basic housekeeping procedures should be established. Make sure exits are free of trash! Now, consider the firemen and other first responders showing up at your burning property – often during nighttime hours and/or the worst of weather conditions. Secondary dangers can, at best, slow response time, and, at worst, result in cuts, falls or broken bones for volunteers rushing to save lives and property. Getting in position to fight fire is a must. Searching properties afterward is another issue. A foot of snow on the ground only makes the exit or entry more dangerous. Think – and be safe.