The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has announced “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” as the theme for Fire Prevention Week, which runs Oct. 6-12. This year’s campaign recognizes the everyday people who motivate their households to develop and practice a home fire escape plan; these seemingly basic behaviors can have life-saving impact.
This year’s campaign works to celebrate people of all ages who learn about home fire escape planning and practice. From young students who learn about the campaign at school to parents who attend a community event like a fire station open house — all of them truly are heroes because they’re taking steps to make their households much, much safer from fire.
Don’t let another day go by without planning and practicing your home fire escape plan — you never know when you may need to use it.
As well as being prepared to escape a fire, it is equally important to be vigilant about preventing a fire from happening in the first place. Many times there is something that you can do so that a fire doesn’t start, like paying attention to what you are cooking, for example.
Cooking is the number one cause of home fires and unattended cooking is the leading cause of fire. The next time you have dinner on the stove and think about leaving the room, think again.
If you and your neighbors have not taken the time to plan and practice your home fire escape plan, unfortunately you are not alone — nationally studies show that only 23% of households have a plan. This is something that can literally mean the difference between surviving a fire or being the victim of one.
Today’s home fires burn faster than ever. In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Knowing how to use that time wisely takes planning and practice.
· Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home and have one inside each sleeping area and outside of each sleeping area.
· Test smoke alarms at least once a month; change the batteries when time changes.
· Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years or when the manufacturer suggests.
· Develop a fire escape plan that identifies two ways out of each room and a family meeting place outside.
· Make sure your plan allows for any specific needs in your household. If everyone knows what to do, everyone can get out quickly.
· Practice using the plan, at least twice a year. If everyone knows that everyone else is ready to exit quickly; no one will lose precious time trying to help someone who doesn’t need help.
· Some children and adults may not awaken to the sound of the smoke alarm. They may need help to wake up.
Home fire sprinklers are a crucial, life-saving technology, since sprinklers can reduce the risk of dying from home fires by 80 percent and can reduce the risk of property loss by 70 percent.
For more information, visit NFPA.org or call your local volunteer fire company.
Maggie Rauser is the Safe Kids coordinator for the Carroll County Health Department.