Fifteen to twenty years ago, homes had more ‘natural’ materials in them such as cotton, wool and untreated wood. Because of this, you had 15-20 minutes to escape in the event of a fire. In a typical home fire today, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds, because of all of the synthetic materials. Escape planning and practice can help you make the most of the time you have, giving everyone enough time to get out.
According to a National Fire Protection Association survey, 71% of households have a fire escape plan, but only 47% of those have practiced it. This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape.™ provides an opportunity for fire and life safety organizations to share how important it is for everyone to have and practice a home fire escape plan.
Many in the community don’t understand the risks from life-threatening heat and toxic smoke produced in a fire. Therefore, firefighters and other community advocates will be working hard throughout October to teach the community about the dangers of fire and smoke, the importance of having working smoke alarms installed throughout their home and help them create and practice a home escape plan.
Why home escape planning and practice matter
- Home escape planning and practice ensure that everyone knows what to do in a fire and is prepared to escape quickly and safely.
- Today’s homes burn faster than ever. You may have as little as two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds.
- When the smoke alarm sounds in a real fire, it’s too late to start to make a plan.
- Sleep with your bedroom door closed. A closed door can actually be an effective barrier against deadly levels of carbon monoxide, smoke and flames – plus it might buy you more time to escape.
What should be included on an escape plan
- Draw or map out the layout of your home, marking two exits from every room (typically a door and a window) and a path from each exit to the outside.
- Pick a meeting place outside in front of your home where everyone will meet upon exiting (examples include a sidewalk, fence, driveway, or neighbor’s house).
- Mark the location of all smoke alarms in your home. (There should be a least one on every level, in each bedroom, and near all sleeping areas).
- Make sure everyone knows how to call 911 or the local emergency number from a mobile phone or neighbor’s phone once they’re safety outside.
Learning about the dangers of fire will help children and adults understand that having a plan is not enough. It’s essential to practice the escape plan with all members of your household at least twice a year so everyone knows what to do if there is a fire in their home.
E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety reminds you in a fire, seconds can mean the difference between a safe escape and a tragic injury or death. Fire safety education isn’t just for school children. Teenagers, adults and the elderly are also at risk in fires, making it important for every member of the community to take the time every October during Fire Prevention Week to make sure they understand how to stay safe in case of a fire and steps they can take to prevent a fire from occurring throughout the year.
About Fire Prevention Week
Since 1922, the National Fire Protection Association has sponsored the public observance of Fire Prevention Week. In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed Fire Prevention Week a national observance, making it the longest-running public health observance in the United States. During Fire Prevention Week, children, adults and teachers learn how to stay safe in case of a fire. Firefighters provide lifesaving public education in an effort to drastically decrease casualties caused by fires.
Fire Prevention Week is observed each year during the week of October 9th in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, which began on October 8, 1871, and caused devastating damage. This horrific conflagration killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres of land.
For more information about Fire Prevention Week, visit www.firepreventionweek.org.