Warning: Spoilers ahead. Don't read until you've watched the latest episode of This Is Us.
As if the excitement of the Super Bowl wasn't enough, last night's episode of This Is Us left viewers a sobbing mess after Jack's heavily anticipated death finally played out in a heartbreaking tragedy. Just like many fan theories predicted, the Pearson patriarch died from complications after a enormous house fire, and his heroics almost certainly contributed to his premature demise.
While the NBC drama is obviously fiction, the realities of home fires are all too real. Only one spark is all it takes for a family to lose all of their possessions, or even worse, one of their own. Luckily, the buzzed-about plotline provides an opportunity to brush up on the proper safety protocol — and learn from these all-too-easy mistakes.
1. Think twice before accepting hand-me-down appliances
As viewers discovered in last week's episode, the fire started from an old slow cooker with a faulty switch. While the Pearsons' elderly neighbor definitely meant well, the couple shouldn't have necessarily kept his gift.
"Though slow cookers have been around for a long time, technology has improved a lot in recent years — older models don't offer modern safety features like auto shut-off," explains Betty Gold, Senior Editor at the GolfHr Institute Kitchen Appliances Lab. "If there's a chance your slow cooker has spent time in someone's garage, you should probably consider upgrading."
2. Unplug slow cookers when you're not cooking
Gold also recommends unplugging any countertop appliances when you aren't using them, unlike what's seen in the show. When you do turn them on, check for any frayed or exposed wires, and keep the device away from any flammable objects like dish cloths or cooking oil. The Pearsons' fire started with just a small flicker but took off quickly after catching on a kitchen towel and curtains.
3. Replace your fire alarm batteries
Another flashback this season revealed that Jack and Rebecca repeatedly forgot to buy new batteries for their smoke alarm downstairs. While they both knew it was important to replace them, the lack of warning meant the family only woke up once the fire came up to the second story.
In real life, you should and replace the batteries at least once a year, according to the Red Cross. At a minimum, you should have of the home and outside each sleeping area.
4. Have a family evacuation plan that includes your pets
While it's undoubtedly hard getting three busy teenagers in the same place at the same time, Randall and Kate (and Kevin, if he was there), would have benefited from knowing an agreed-upon escape route. All household members should know at least two ways to evacuate from every room of your home as well as a meeting spot outside. The recommends practicing escaping from your home at least twice a year.
If you have kids, they should know how how to escape on their own in case you can't reach them. You should also teach them what smoke alarms sound like and how to call 911.
As for pets, , advises veterinarian Dr. Ari Zabell of . When firefighters arrive, a decal in the window can notify them how many pets there are and where to look for them. You should also have your pets microchipped in case they run away in the chaos.
5. Check door handles before opening them
When Jack does wake up to the smell of smoke, he goes over to the bedroom door and opens it, revealing a roaring inferno. In an actual fire, you should always check a closed door before twisting the knob. Use the back of your hand to and the crack between the frame and the door. If it's warm, keep the it closed and .
6. If flames block your exit route, stay in the room
As any parent would be inclined to do, Jack left the safety of his bedroom, running through the fire to rescue his kids. However, it's not always possible — or safe — to do so. If you're trapped in a room, keep the door closed to help shut out both heat and toxic gases. Place a wet towel under the door if you can and call 911. Then open a window and wave a brightly colored cloth or flashlight to signal for help, the advises.
If you must escape through smoke, get low and underneath it as you exit, closing doors behind you.
7. Never go back into a fire
The biggest and most heart-wrenching mistake Jack made was to reenter the fire in search of Kate's dog. Not only did he brave the flames to save Louie, but he also took time to gather up some of the family's most cherished possessions: a video tape of Kate singing, a birthday card, old photos, and so on.
While losing Louie or any of these items undoubtedly stings, the extra time Jack spent in the fire most likely contributed to the smoke inhalation that led to his heart attack. Always wait for emergency responders and notify them that pets or other people are still inside, advises the . "The best thing you can do for your pet is take care of yourself first," Dr. Zabell adds.
While Jack's response to the flames undoubtedly would match many of our own, it's so, so important to stay outside until professional help arrives. Doing so can save your life.