As we journey forward in this “Stay At Home” initiative, I read a fire officer’s writeup stating that the number of residential fires could...

As we journey forward in this “Stay At Home” initiative, I read a fire officer’s writeup stating that the number of residential fires could be on the increase. The pressure placed on properly operating equipment is greater than normal. Cooking at home has become the norm, rather than the exception. Curious children who may decide to experiment with fire must be watched 24-7. Houses burn at all hours of the day and night, but the probability goes up with these unusual circumstances. What this means is that during the day more fires are possible, but with people at home, the fire should be detected earlier. Fires at night will continue to occur, with the only detection being a proper number of properly placed and properly operating smoke alarms after everyone has gone to sleep. The point is: are we prepared for anything?

Your children are home from school. I know that schools are trying to get their online programs up and running immediately. I would like to offer some homework for every family that reads this article. This assignment has two parts: a fire safety inspection and a practiced home escape plan. You and your children need to go into each room of your home, noting anything that could cause a fire and correcting that problem. You should test each smoke alarm. Once you have gone throughout the home, you should go outside, checking around the house and inside the attached/detached garage. Once you have completed the inspection, it is time to put a home escape plan into place, with two ways out determined for each room, if possible. Once the home escape plan is developed, then it is time to practice it with common sense in mind and a designated safe place determined on the outside of the house. Once you have a practiced home escape plan, now you need to test it at night. Once everyone has gone to sleep, a family member needs to push the test button, activating the smoke alarms until everyone wakes up and gets to the safe place or until you realize that they are not going to wake up. If they do not wake up, more smoke alarms have to be added and it may be necessary to have a wired system put into place. 

With children at home 24-7 and the weather warming up, what will they do? Parental supervision is a big piece of the well-being of a child. Medflight recently had a case where a three-year-old followed the family dog into the woods and got lost. By the grace of God, Medflight was able to see the dog’s collar in the woods, and the medic traversed a swamp to find the girl. This was a true success story, but again, the probability is great for many more incidents involving children to occur. Without something to do, children will find something to do, and believe me, the sky is the limit. 

This is something that none of us want to talk about, but what will you do if COVID-19 enters your home? Part of the “Stay At Home” initiative is that if anyone in your family gets sick, then that person needs to stay home. My granddaughter caught the flu, most likely at her preschool. COVID-19 is spreading because of the movement of people. We have come to the point that if people have been anywhere close to the current epicenters, they should not travel, and if they do, then they should self-quarantine for 14 days. The problem is that most people will only be quarantined when forced to do so. People have a terrible habit of doing exactly what they want to do, no matter who they may expose in the process. If a person in your family thinks that he or she has contracted COVID-19, then he or she needs to be tested. This virus is causing the hospitalization and even death of some who get it. Taking care of a COVID-19 patient in your home may be challenging, and may require the assistance of an ambulance, local emergent care center, or hospital. It is important to make sure that the people taking care of you or a loved one who has COVID-19 or could have the virus knows this info. The bottom line is that there will be a lot of cleaning, disinfecting and laundering that may need to be done. Keep the most vulnerable away, where possible.   

You all know that I pastor a church. We decided to stop meeting based on the recommendations of our government leaders and the example of others. At this point, it has become a Class 1 misdemeanor, for any group of more than 10 to meet, punishable by 1 year in jail or a $2,500 fine, or both. The problem is that this mandate does not apply to every place of business, which I believe is a problem. We must all exercise proper social distancing, even if we see others not exercising proper social distancing. Proper social distancing is that people should remain six feet from one another. If we hope to have a positive impact on the spread of this virus, we must cooperate with our government leaders. Our president has extended the distancing recommendations through April 30. 

In these very different times, we must be prepared for anything. I have always said never say never. Where people are concerned, anything is possible. You would like to think that people will act with the well-being of others in mind, but you only have to take a journey on the interstate to know how untrue that is. It is time that we become neighbors looking out for neighbors. It looks like we won’t be gathering in groups for a while. However, we can still look out for one another. I pray that each of you stay safe and well, from fire, injury, or illness. We have no idea when things will return to normal, or even what normal will look like at the end of this. Many of us have never seen anything like this before, but this is a great opportunity to educate our children and grandchildren. There is nothing normal about this, and I believe that there are many valuable lessons to be learned. My prayer is that we not miss a thing that the Lord intends for us to learn.