Atascadero City Manager, Rachelle Rickard

by Atascadero City Manager, Rachelle Rickard

“Not Every Hero Wears a Cape,
Plan and Practice Your Escape!”

The City of Atascadero’s first responders are dedicated to reducing the occurrence of home fires and home fire injuries through prevention and protection education. October is National Fire Prevention Month and is a time when agencies across the country join in spreading the word about fire safety and prevention, as well as overall personal safety. The event has roots that date back to The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 that killed more than 250 people and left more than 100,000 homeless. That devastating fire lasted for three days, burned more than 2,000 acres and destroyed about 17,400 structures.

This year’s campaign, “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” strives to educate everyone about the small but important actions they can take to be a hero by keeping themselves and those around them safe from fire. There are simple but effective strategies that can help to ensure that every family member gets out safely in the event of a home emergency.

Many fatal home fires take place overnight, while everyone is asleep and when just seconds can make the difference between life and death. In a typical home fire, there may only be one or two minutes total from the time the smoke alarm sounds to safely get out of the house and it’s too late then to start making a plan. Escape pre-planning and practice can help give everyone enough time to get out alive. Prepare in advance by making a home escape plan and having the whole family practice it together now. Planning and practicing ahead of time ensures that everyone will know what to do in an actual emergency in order to quickly and safely escape.

Please remember that smoke alarms do save lives; one or more working smoke alarms in a home doubles your chances of surviving a fire. Smoke alarms are inexpensive and easy to install. Be sure to check that your smoke alarms are working and change the batteries every year in the fall when you turn back your clock.

Other common sense safety reminders at this time of year include never leaving your stove or oven unattended while cooking and if you are faced with a grease fire, immediately cover it with a lid and turn off the heat source.  Be sure to place candles in non-tip candleholders and well away from any flammable materials. Never leave lit candles unattended and be sure they are out of the reach of children and pets. Turn off all light strands and electrical decorations before you go to bed or leave your home. Before buying a Christmas tree, test it for freshness by tapping the base on the ground. If needles fall or can be pulled off easily, the tree is too dry. Find a cool spot for your fresh tree, away from heater vents and the fireplace, and keep it as fresh as possible by watering it often. Be sure to remove it from the home when it is dry, as dried-out trees are a serious fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home.

My wish as always is for everyone to stay safe, while also enjoying our beautiful autumn weather and the upcoming holiday season with family and friends. If you have any questions regarding this or any other topic concerning the City, please feel free to contact me at