As the weather in Kansas starts turning cold, the risk of fire increases significantly. Yet, only 23 percent of households have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.
National Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 7 to 13 and this year’s theme, Have 2 Ways Out, focuses on the importance of fire escape planning and practice. A home fire escape plan prepares your family to get out quickly when the smoke alarm sounds.
Having two ways out is an important part of your plan in case your first escape route is blocked by smoke or flames. Safe Kids is joining the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to urge families to develop and practice a fire escape plan, as well as to take active measures to help prevent fires in their homes. Approximately 80 percent of all fire-related deaths and injuries occur in the home, and young children are at a particularly high risk because they don’t perceive danger as readily and can lack the ability to escape a life-threatening fire situation.
“Having a working smoke alarm reduces a person’s chances of dying in a fire by nearly half,” said Cherie Sage, Safe Kids Kansas. “It is important to have a working smoke alarm on each level of the home and outside of each sleeping area, but being alerted to a fire is only the first step. Your family must know how to escape a fire to a safe location outside the home. Making and practicing a fire escape plan helps ensure your family members know just what to do.”
Important tips for escape planning:
- Make a home escape plan. Draw a map of your home showing all doors and windows. Talk about the plan with everyone in your home.
- Practice your fire escape plan with at least two ways out of each room.
- Have an outside meeting place a safe distance from the home where everyone should meet.
- Practice your home fire drill at night and during the day, twice a year.
- Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
- Once there is a fire, get out and stay out. Never go back inside for people or pets.
- Teach kids how to get low and go if they hear the smoke alarm, smell smoke or see flames.
- Call the fire department only when you are safely outside your home.
The best way to stay safe from fire is to prevent it. Here are a few fire prevention tips:
- Keep matches, gasoline and lighters locked away, out of children’s reach and sight.
- Never leave the kitchen while you are cooking. Use back burners and turn pot handles to the back of the stove when cooking.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended. Place candles in a safe location away from combustible materials and where children or pets cannot tip them over.
- Place space heaters at least three feet from curtains, papers, furniture and other flammable materials. Always turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Test all smoke alarms every month and change the batteries once a year, even if they are hard-wired. Smoke alarms are also available with 10-year lithium batteries.
- Consider a home sprinkler system. The combination of smoke alarms and sprinklers can reduce your chances of dying in a fire by 82 percent.