Public safety professionals know that when a fire occurs in a home, damage to property is of little importance in comparison to the well-being of the people who live there. As long as each person gets out unharmed, nothing else really matters. Fire Prevention Week runs through October 15 and this year’s theme is about keeping families in the community safer from fire.
Home fire safety is something every family should be well-versed in because the potential losses can be devastating. According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2010 U.S. fire departments responded to nearly 370,000 home structure fires. These fires caused billions of dollars in direct damage, and even worse, led to 2,640 civilian deaths. Who knows how many lives could have been saved by the implementation of simple fire prevention strategies?
With so much at stake, it is vital that fire safety information reaches families in the community. NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week (FPW) website offers safety tips, media materials, fundraising resources, how-to-guides, and teaching strategies for anyone wanting to run a FPW campaign. There are also helpful educational materials covering escape planning, smoke alarms, home fire sprinklers, and more.
Having and practicing a fire escape plan is essential because flames can consume a home at a frightening pace. Fire can spread so fast that families may have as little as two minutes to get out of the house. NFPA’s downloadable escape plan grid is a great way for families to map out exits in the home and designate an outdoor meeting spot.
Installing smoke alarms and home fire sprinklers is another protective measure families can take to safeguard their homes. Working smoke alarms and automatic fire sprinkler systems cut the risk of dying in a reported home fire by 50 and 80 percent, respectively. People can get the ins-and-outs of smoke alarms and fire sprinklers with NFPA’s safety tip sheets.
Though some of the fire safety information related to these topics might seem like common knowledge, it’s surprising how many people appreciate a reminder. Many people would agree that when a smoke alarm sounds, one should get outside first and then call the fire department. Since families could have less than two minutes to escape a burning home, calling the fire department while still inside could result in injury or death. In an NFPA survey, only eight percent of American households said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out.
Fire Prevention Week is a time to shine a spotlight on fire safety. Take time this week to share life-saving fire safety information with members of your family and community.