A mother in Fort Worth, Texas, was forced to throw her 4-month-old son from the second-floor window of her apartment as a fire raged through her building and trapped them in their home.
A maintenance worker at Marena Vasquez's apartment complex came running when he heard her screaming for help from the window while cradling her infant, Ricky (pictured below), as flames and smoke closed in. He stretched out his arms and told Vasquez to throw the child.
She had to. If she had waited any longer, it would have been too late.
"I just see all the smoke coming in from the door, and I tried to look through the peep hole and it was so dark," Vasquez told WFAA-TV in Fort Worth. "I tried to open it, but smoke hit me in the face."
Her husband, Ricardo Vasquez Jr., also a worker at the apartment complex, wasn't in the apartment at the time but heard her screams from the window.
"I took out the curtains, and I picked up the blinds and opened the window, and I looked out ... and I just see flames coming out of the apartment," Marena Vasquez said. "I said, "Oh my God!' and I yelled out, 'Help!' "
The maintenance worker who rushed to help, Antonio Olvera, caught Ricky after Marena threw him from the window. Shortly after, Ricardo Vasquez brought a ladder so that his wife could descend to safety.
"I dropped him, and he caught him," Marena said of Olvera's action. "He's our angel because if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't know what I'd do. I still would be have been stuck in that apartment.
"We are all together," she said of her family. "None of us is in the hospital or injured or anything."
Fox 4 in Dallas-Fort Worth reported that a fire in the kitchen of a first-floor apartment ignited the blaze at Vasquez's building. Sixteen units were damaged in the fire, but no one was seriously hurt.
Thanks to the maintenance worker, Vasquez's son is safe, but heroes come in all ages. A child who saved his whole family from a house fire in Beacon, N.Y., the day before Thanksgiving. Matthew Hanson, 5, used the training he learned at school to alert his mom and dad to a kitchen fire at their home.
An estimated 14 million young children are injured in accidents every year, according to Underwriters Laboratories. “This is a segment of the population that can’t protect themselves,? said UL Consumer Safety Director John Drengenberg. “And every accident is preventable.? Along with choosing a safe city to live, every parent needs to read the following list of helpful tips and tricks to ensure their family’s wellbeing. Click through to discover some surprising facts and critical pointers to keep your kids safe in any apartment or house.
It may seem like a silly suggestion, but this one tip should serve as the guiding principle behind all your home safety improvements. Get down on your hands and knees and see what your child sees, says UL Consumer Safety Director, John Drengenberg. It's the only way you'll know which areas of your home require the most attention. Be on the lookout for any sharp corners that might present a safety risk or exposed wires that could wrap around your child. Any efforts to childproof your home should start from the ground up.
Nearly 40 children are sent to the hospital every day due to a heavy household appliance falling on them. Make sure to anchor and secure your furniture, like televisions, which are often supported by inadequate stands. UL Consumer Safety Director John Drengenberg warns that he's seen many cases in which families place their older, heavier television sets in their child's bedroom--often on shoddy shelving that can easily tip over. Make sure every appliance in your home is stable and secure.
Young children should understand what to do in case of a fire or carbon monoxide leak in the home. Underwriters Laboratories suggests creating a simple map to illustrate two exits from every room in the house, including windows, and a gathering point for family members to meet outside the home in case of emergency.
Never set your home water heater above 120 degrees. Anything above this threshold could cause serious burns to a child within seconds. An estimated 500,000 burn injuries are treated each year, according to the American Burn Association. A good rule of thumb, says John Drengenberg, is to run your arm under the water for 30 seconds. If the temperature remains comfortable throughout, it should be safe for your children as well.
Known as the "silent killer," carbon monoxide is tasteless, scentless and colorless -- making it especially dangerous in the winter months, when windows are shut. Make sure to test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors regularly, and to include them outside of every sleeping area, and on every level of the home.
Regardless of your city’s air quality, you can improve your own living conditions by preventing mold growth and maintaining good ventilation in the home. Underwriters Laboratories also suggests using low-VOC emitting paints and furnishings. VOC’s, or Volatile Organic Compounds, can cause chronic respiratory problems, especially in young children. Look for the low-VOC label on paint supplies before gearing up for any home improvements.
Though it may seem insignificant, the flame of a candle can reach up to 1000 degrees, according to John Drengenberg, Consumer Safety Director at Underwriters Laboratories. In addition, the National Fire Protection Association found that candles cause an estimated 15,000 home fires a year. Most people tend to underplay the danger of a candle’s flame, says Drengenberg, but families with young children should be especially vigilant. Never leave a candle unattended.
Every year more than 250 children under the age of 5 drown, with the majority of cases involving home swimming pools. Underwriters Laboratories subscribes to the 10/20 rule: be able to scan the pool in 10 seconds and reach the water within 20 seconds.
It’s important to keep an ICE, an “in case of emergency? contact. Familiarize your children with the acronym and add “ICE? to your family’s cell phones with a relevant emergency contact number, like a relative’s home number. If you’re family is separated during an emergency, ICE could help your children find aid fast.
Remember to keep harmful chemicals and medications out of the reach of children. Older family members tend to have more medication on hand, says UL Consumer Safety Director John Drengenberg, and its easy to forget prescription medicine or other potentially dangerous chemicals out in the open. Reduce your risk by keeping hazardous products in their original packaging, which often come with childproof lids. For more tips to help keep your kids safe, visit Underwriters Laboratories' Safety at Home website.