National Fire Prevention Week begins on Sunday, October 7 and is observed throughout the U.S. and Canada. The theme for 2012 is “Have 2 Ways Out!,” focusing on the importance of your family’s fire escape planning and practice.
When there’s a fire, your home can be engulfed in flames and smoke in a matter of just a few minutes. Keep your family safe by developing an escape plan and practicing it regularly.
Your fire escape plan
According to an NFPA survey, only 1/3 of Americans have developed and practiced a home escape plan. Here are some helpful tips on how to create your plan.
- Draw a map of your home with all doors and windows indicated. Each room should have two ways out. Use arrows to indicate the easiest ways to exit the home from each room.
- Install enough smoke detectors. Smoke alarms should be in each sleeping room, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home. All smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years. For the best protection, all smoke alarms should be interconnected — when one sounds, they all sound.
- Make sure that your house number is visible from the street.
- Designate a place outside your home (such as a tree in your neighbor’s yard) where everyone in the family will meet in case of a fire or other emergency.
- Have a fire drill at least twice a year (preferably every two to three months) to practice your escape plan.
Make sure your home is safe
With this fire safety checklist, you can make sure your home is as safe as possible.
Smoke alarms are tested every week.
Batteries are replaced every three to six months.
All electric cords are in good condition — not frayed or damaged.
Extension cords are used properly — not under carpet.
The furnace and fireplace have been inspected and cleaned in the last 12 months.
The clothes dryer vent and filter are cleaned regularly.
Curtains (and other flammable objects) are well away from the stove and heater.
Portable space heaters are at least three feet away from anything that can burn and are always turned off when adults leave the room (or when everyone is asleep).
Teaching kids about fire safety
Talk to your children about fire safety from the time they are young. Provide your little ones with toy fire engines, fire stations and other such toys. The Matchbox Cliff Hanger Fire Station ($23) and the Fast Lane Light & Sound Fire Truck ($23) are good options for young kids.
Talk about the fire department, as well as the jobs of the firemen and other emergency personnel. Remind your kids about what to do if there is a fire in your home:
- If the smoke alarm sounds, get outside first and then call the fire department.
- If you have to escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your way out.
- Go to the designated place in your escape plan and stay there until your parents (or emergency personnel) tell you what to do next.
Visit the National Fire Protection Association website to learn more about fire safety.