We plan for retirement and we plan for vacations. Many even plan trips to the grocery store. But how many among us have planned for what to do in case of a fire?
Fire Prevention Week began Sunday, Oct. 6 and runs through Saturday. Coinciding with this annual awareness week, the State Fire Marshal is reminding Maryland residents: “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” According to a news release, the campaign works to educate everyone about the small, but important, actions they can take to keep themselves and those around them safe.
NFPA statistics show that in 2017 U.S. fire departments responded to 357,000 home structure fires. These fires caused 2,630 fire deaths and 10,600 fire injuries. On average, seven people died in a fire in a home per day from 2012 through 2016.
In Carroll County, three persons perished in fires during 2018 and two died in fires in 2017 and 2016, according to statistics from the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Over the past decade, fire has claimed the lives of 15 Carroll countians. Across Maryland, 71 deaths occurred in fires in each of the past two years, which remains sadly consistent. Since 2000, anywhere from 54 to 94 Marylanders have died in fires each year, according to fire marshal statistics.
“These numbers show that home fires continue to pose a significant threat to safety,” Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of outreach and advocacy, is quoted as saying in the release. “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. Escape planning and practice can help you make the most of the time you have, giving everyone enough time to get out."
Electrical fires and smoking were the two leading causes of fires in Maryland last year. The elderly are particularly at risk. More than one-third of those who died in Maryland fires last year were over 70. Last year, more fires in the state began in the bedroom than in any other room of the house, although the kitchen traditionally leads in this category.
While NFPA and the State Fire Marshal's Office are focusing on home fires, these messages apply to virtually any location.
“Rehearsing what to do in a crisis ensures quick-thinking and avoids panic in the event of a fire,” State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci said via the release. “No matter where you are, be aware of your available exits. If the alarm system sounds, take it seriously, and exit the building immediately.”
It’s important to understand escape plans at work and, for kids, during school, but it’s most important to have an escape plan at home given that more fatal fires occur between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m. — when many of the victims are sleeping — than at any other time.
Among other fire safety tips, it is suggested that families:
· Develop a fire escape plan that identifies two ways out of each room and a family meeting place outside.
· Make sure everyone knows what to do, so 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.
We strongly urge everyone to come up with or practice an escape plan during Fire Prevention Week. For more general information and home escape planning, visit www.fpw.org.