This year marks the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week, sponsored annually by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This year, from October 9-15, we are spreading the word that “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape.” to make sure that each person and family knows what actions they can take to keep themselves and those around them safe from home fires.
“Today’s homes burn faster than ever. You may have as little as two minutes, or even less time, to safely escape a home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Your ability to get out of a home during a fire depends on early warning from smoke alarms and advance planning,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA.
The American Trauma Society, PA Division (ATSPA) and Safe Kids Pennsylvania (SKPA) echo this message and want to raise awareness around the importance of fire escape planning.
Jessica Ritter, SKPA State Office Coordinator said, “It’s important for everyone to plan and practice a home fire escape. Everyone needs to be prepared in advance, so that they know what to do when the smoke alarm sounds. Given that every home is different, every home fire escape plan will also be different.” Krista Brands, ATSPA CEO, added, “Have a plan for everyone in the home. Children, older adults, and people with disabilities may need assistance get out and get to safety. Make sure to plan accordingly!”
The ATSPA and SKPA want to share these key home fire escape planning tips:
- Make sure your plan meets the needs of all your family members, including those with sensory and/or physical disabilities, infants and young children, older adults, pets, and any others who may need some extra help.
- Smoke alarms should be installed inside every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of your home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound. Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button
- Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows open easily, while still ensuring that windows do not create a fall hazard for young children at any other time.
- Have an outside meeting place a safe distance from your home where everyone should meet.
- Practice your home fire drill at least twice a year with everyone in the household, including guests. Practice at least once during the day and at night.
Having a plan and knowing what to do in case of a home fire greatly increases the chances of getting out safely. Additionally, having working smoke detectors in your home cuts the risk of dying in home fires in half. NFPA has more information and resources on their website, including a home escape plan grid and a family action plan. Both are available in English and Spanish here: https://www.nfpa.org/Events/Events/Fire-Prevention-Week/About.
For more information about Fire Prevention Week and fire prevention in general, visit www.fpw.org and www.sparky.org. If you would like more information about safety topics, call 717-766-1616 or visit www.pasafekids.org or www.atspa.org.