By: Sue Wilson Cordle, Volunteer Leader and Board Member
Last night was a big night for NBC. And if you think it’s because the underdog Eagles upset the Patriots you’d only be partially right. It was the devastating loss after the game that has so many of us reeling. Jack Pearson, the loving, perfect-with-all-his-flaws husband and father died on NBC’s series This is Us.
If you aren’t familiar with the show, it is a brilliantly written series about the Pearson family, told in a creative style of flashbacks from the parents and the kids’ youth, to the present day.
The generational story of Jack, his wife Rebecca and their 3 kids- triplets Kate, Randall and Kevin and how they discover deeper meaning in their present day lives after loss and tragedy is inspiring and compelling. Successful businessman and father Randall searches for information about his biological parents. Kate finds love and self-acceptance while battling obesity. Kevin pursues a more meaningful career, and battles his own demons which brings some difficult choices. Viewers have known from the beginning that Jack dies at some point while the kids were teenagers, but the dramatic episode aired last night after the big game, exposed the circumstances; that Jack died from a heart attack caused by the prolonged smoke exposure he suffered after saving his family from a home fire.
The fire started when a slow cooker with a faulty switch overheated and sparked. The Pearson home was old, with old wiring. The spark quickly turned into an electrical fire which spread rapidly to engulf the entire home. The smoke alarm did not sound because the batteries were dead. In fact, in previous episodes the fact that the Pearson’s kept forgetting to replace the batteries in the smoke alarms in the house was a set-up and hinted at how Jack’s death might unfold.
There has been some PR fallout for the company that makes Crock Pots, and NBC and the company itself has since been assuring people of the product’s safety- but the episode serves as a reminder and a public service announcement for all of us to unplug (not just turn off) our small appliances in our homes- from toasters in the kitchen to curling irons in the bathroom.
The Red Cross responds to hundreds of thousand of home fires nationally and has a number of reminders for basic fire prevention tips for your home:
- Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.
- Smoking materials are the leading cause of residential fire deaths in the United States. If you smoke, take precautions: Smoke outside; choose fire-safe cigarettes; never smoke in bed, when drowsy or medicated, or if anyone in the home is using oxygen.
- If you do smoke, use deep, sturdy ashtrays and douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before disposal.
- Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.
- Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended, even for a minute.
- Unplug small appliances when not in use.
The Red Cross also has these 7 Ways to Prepare for a Home Fire
- Install the right number of smoke alarms. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
- Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
- Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.
- Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.
- Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire“ to alert everyone that they must get out.
- Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
- Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.
For more information on preparedness resources from the Red Cross click here.