Every 15 seconds, a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the United States. Most fires don't happen in homes, but most fire deaths and injuries do. The major causes of fatal home fires are misplaced smoking materials, heating equipment, arson, and children playing with matches or lighters.
The United States and Canada are among the highest fire death rates of any industrialized countries. Why is this? Our buildings are built to high standards and our fire departments are among the best in the world. The problem is a general lack of awareness related to fire safety and the importance of making this a part of our everyday lives.
Escaping from a Home on Fire
How long do you have to escape from a fire in your home? When people are asked this question, the answers are surprising. Approximately 60% typically will say 20 minutes or more. In a recent survey, 24% of those surveyed estimated they had more than 10 minutes to escape a home fire.
The truth is you may have much less time to escape than you think. A typical living room fire can threaten the entire house in just a few minutes, producing life-threatening conditions in upstairs bedrooms less than two minutes after the smoke alarm sounds. Your family needs to know how to get out at the first sign of a home fire.
Don't Wait...Plan your Escape Today!
Create your own escape plan grid. Include everyone in the planning process. Draw your plan, marking two ways out of every room. Include windows. Pick a meeting place outside, well away from the building. Tell everyone to meet there after they've escaped. That way you can count heads and tell the fire department if anyone is trapped inside. Don't forget to call the fire department from a safe location.
Plans are great, but the only way to know if they work is to practice them. Hold a home fire drill. Getting out of your own home sounds easy, but your home can look very different if it's full of smoke. Children in particular need to practice. Children practice drills at school every month, but rarely at home.
Have someone press the button on the smoke alarm as the signal for the drill to start. Get out quickly but carefully. Everyone should go to the meeting place.