On average, a home fire breaks out once every 52 seconds. Has your family developed and practiced a home fire escape plan, or do you keep putting it off until tomorrow? Fire strikes without warning; don't let another year go by unprepared. This week (October 7 - 13) is National Fire Prevention Week, and we encourage you to consider taking some important steps that could save your or a loved one's life some day.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), not enough families take the time to develop and practice a home fire escape plan -- a lack of planning that could result in tragedy. The NFPA encourages you to have two ways out of your home in the event of a fire. In a typical home fire, you may have as little as two minutes to escape once the fire alarm sounds. By practicing a home fire drill, your family can learn how to escape quickly and safely, which could mean the difference between life and death. Here are some guidelines for developing a home fire escape plan:
- Be sure your home has at least one smoke alarm on each level, especially near any sleeping areas. Check the alarms frequently and replace the batteries annually.
- Create a floor plan of your home, complete with the locations of all doors, windows and smoke alarms. Keep the floor plan posted in a prominent location, so family members and visitors to the home can review escape routes.
- Teach your children to escape -- not hide -- from fire and smoke. Explain that you should crawl on your hands and knees to the safest exit because the clean air is underneath the smoke, and that you should not crawl on your belly because some poisons settle on the floor. Stress that no one should ever go back into a burning building.
- Choose a central meeting place that is a safe distance from the house, such as a tree, or a neighbor's front porch. Mark this meeting place on your escape plan.
- Memorize the emergency number of your local fire company so you can call it immediately from a cell phone or a neighbor's house once your family is safely outside.
- Practice your escape drill twice a year.
If you live in an apartment or multi-leveled structure, check with your building manager to be sure the fire detection system is checked regularly. Memorize the number of doors between your apartment and the two closest exits, and in a fire emergency, use the stairs (not the elevator). If smoke or fire blocks your exit, stay in the apartment and cover all vents and door cracks with duct tape or wet towels. Call the fire department and let them know your location, and signal to firefighters outside by waving a light cloth through the top or bottom of a window.
Planning and practicing a home fire drill is the best way to prepare your family for the unexpected event of a fire. Check out our Facebook page from October 8 - 12 for more fire prevention information and click here to watch a video about the dangers of flashovers.