Throughout the U.S., fire departments have taught and continue to teach fire safety lessons in our schools, but it’s also a lesson adults need to learn and know what to do when a fire occurs. Through public education we’re able to tell the community about the steps to take regarding fire and life-safety measures and how vital it is to implement those steps.
In 2010, U.S. fire departments responded to 369,500 home structure fires (one home structure fire every 85 seconds). These fires caused 13,350 injuries, 2,640 deaths, and $6.9 billion in damages. According to NFPA, most fatal fires claim the lives of one or two people. In 2010, 19 home fires killed five or more people resulting 101 deaths.
A home can become engulfed in smoke and flames, within minutes, leaving you and your loved ones with little time to escape. Therefore, it’s important to have a home fire escape plan that will prepare your family to think fast and get out quickly when the smoke alarm sounds.
October 7th – 13th is Fire Prevention Week, an annual event that began in 1922 in an effort to focus the public’s attention on fire and how it has a direct and tragic impact on the lives of every citizen in the U.S. During this week, fire departments heighten their efforts to educate the public on how to prevent fires in their home, or work place and how to escape a fire should one occur.
This year’s theme, “Have Two Ways Out” focuses on the importance of having two escape routes from every room in the home should one route become blocked by smoke or flames while emphasizing the importance of developing a fire escape plan to include frequent practices so everyone knows what to do should a fire occur.
According to NFPA:
- One-third of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.
- Approximately three-quarters of Americans have an escape plan; however, less than half actually practice it.
- One-third of American households think they have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening. The time available is often less.
- Eight percent of American households stated that on hearing a smoke alarm, their first thought would be to get out!
Home Improvement Project That Could Save Your Life
When completing this year’s home maintenance and improvement projects, take time to review the escape routes in your home. Be sure they are free and clear and that no items are blocking the doors and windows that would prevent you from escaping in the event of a fire. For further information on potential hazards of safe escape routes, NFPA’s Clear Your Escape Routes” brochure is now available at www.nfpa.org.