28 January 2015

Six Million Ways To Die -- We're All At Risk Pt. 1

Most City Homes Face Imminent Danger
29 January 2015
By A.F. James MacArthur

I could have been killed Wednesday. But it wasn't the first time.

Having been shot, knife attacked, endured numerous car crashes, motorcycle accidents, a boating mishap, and even a near miss in the skies, I live life being ever aware of just how fragile it is. Truly, our lives can be taken away at any moment.

While working on  our websites this evening, I began to smell the distinct odor of natural gas.

Before starting my work, I had placed a big pot of water on the stove. I needed boiling water to brew some herbal tea. Knowing this would take a few minutes, I went upstairs to Studio B at MacArthur Media world headquarters. There were a few things I thought I'd take care of before heading back down to the kitchen to add the tea bags.

Initially the smell didn't concern me much. Sometimes when using a gas stove, it's not entirely unusual to detect a hint of odor. But in a few moments, I realized this was a bit different. With the studio door closed, the smell was a bit stronger than it should be.
Gas stove explosions can level an entire house.

Racing downstairs, I discovered for some strange reason, the burner on the stove had flamed out. Explosive, flammable natural gas was pumping into the room. I can only guess how much of it had already filled the room before I shut things off and proceeded to ventilate the building.

If some source of ignition, some sort of errant spark met with the invisible pool of gas, a mushroom cloud could have easily been part of the view in the skies of North Baltimore Wednesday.

Even without an explosion, prolonged inhalation of high amounts of natural gas fumes carries it's own health hazards as well. Put simply, it can kill you. You can suffocate. If you're sleeping and don't smell it, while not as undetectable as carbon monoxide, you can still be taken out.

Having spent years of my life working in fire rescue and EMS, I consider myself a bit more cautious
and aware than the average bear. Yet realizing how bad this could have went has me quite shaken.

Cause Of Mansion Fire Determined

Wednesday we learned what investigators determined was the cause of a huge fatal fire on Childs Point Rd in Annapolis.

A week ago the multi-million dollar, waterfront mansion in Anne Arundel County, quickly turned a family home into an inferno.

Although missing for several days, the bodies of six family members, including 4 children were eventually discovered in the charred rubble.

In a statement Wednesday,  Anne Arundel County Fire Chief Allan C. Graves, explained what investigators believe was the source of the deadly blaze:
 "The investigation team has concluded that an electrical failure ignited combustible material in the area [a large living room of the house] which quickly spread to the [dried out] Christmas tree and furnishings."
Read the full statement from Chief Graves.

Safety Saves Lives

Life in Baltimore is filled with uncertainty and dangerous enough as it is, but we should be able to feel safe while at work or at home.

Since the majority of all homes in Baltimore have gas stoves, what nearly happened to me can happen to anyone. Make sure you keep an eye on them and always be alert when they're in use.

Once a fire gets started, most people have no idea how quickly they can spread and take over an entire house.

With many residences being attached homes, and others located in close proximity to each other, Baltimore faces particularly high fire danger. A fire in one place, can quickly spread to other adjacent structures.

The city is no stranger to fatal fires. Statistically, our rate of people dieing in fires -- usually house
James MacArthur at a home explosion near Baltimore.
fires -- is around three times higher than the national average. This isn't acceptable.

Although a smoke detector would not have helped me today -- propane doesn't set them off -- they still serve as an important first line of defense. Being prepared for known dangers just makes good sense.

There are many things most of us can do to dramatically reduce our risk of fire. And we should make sure we don't take our safety, and those of our loved ones for granted.

Making sure space heaters -- possibly the number one cause of house fires -- are used properly and safely. Never leaving open flames, such as candles, unattended or set on or near flammable surfaces. Having electrical wiring and connections inspected, with repairs done in a manner meeting safety codes. Along with not hoarding too much combustible clutter, are just some of the common sense, though often overlooked, things that can be done.

You should also have multiple escape routes planned. Establish an emergency plan with your family, and practice it regularly. It's especially important for young children to understand ahead of time what to do. During a panic, there's an increased chance they'll remember what they've practiced as opposed to simply panicking without a plan.

Remember, in Baltimore City, you can get free smoke detectors for your home, courtesy of Baltimore Fire Department, by calling 311. But it shouldn't stop there.

Taking the time to survey your surroundings for fire safety can literally save your life, or that of someone you know. Don't put it off. Tomorrow could be too late.

This handy fire safety checklist can be used to survey your home. Make it an activity involving the whole family. Everyone need to learn how to be safe.

For comprehensive fire safety information for the home, work or school, including customizable tip sheets, visit the National Fire Protection Association.  Established in 1896, the non profit is the world's leading advocate of fire prevention and an authoritative source on public safety.

In a follow up story, I will discuss something even more frightening learned while researching this article. Even if you don't have natural gas lines in your house, you're still at serious risk due to aging underground pipelines. This is a serious problem, but the government really doesn't want you to know.

Researcher, independent investigator, and entrepreneur, A.F. James MacArthur is Baltimore's most well known independent journalist contributor. A member of the underground news network for over 20 years. During this time, he's been a frequent subject of attack by government under the guise of law enforcement. Although closely watched and followed, he's often boycotted from being given any credit for his work by mainstream media.

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