This year, the Fire Prevention Week campaign is all about giving people the knowledge they need to be ready to escape fire safely and "Have 2 Ways Out" from a fire in the home.
Four out of five fire deaths happen in the home. In fact, one home structure fire was reported every 87 seconds in 2009. On average, seven people die in home fires every day. Adults 65 and older face the highest risk of fire death. This is why you need a plan to get out of the home in case of fire! Make a home escape plan now and conduct 'Exit Drills in the Home' (E.D.I.T.H.) with these points in mind.
- A home escape plan is your plan to get out of your home quickly.
- Assemble everyone in your home together. Locate all doors and windows for your home that lead directly to the outside. Make sure they open easily. Please note windows or doors with security bars, grilles, or window guards should be equipped with emergency release devices so they can be readily used for escape.
- Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. One way out will be a door and the second way out may be a window or another door.
- Have working smoke alarms! Make sure everyone knows the sound and understands the warning of your home smoke alarms and knows how to respond. Test your smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
- Have a plan for anyone in your home who may need assistance to escape such as young children, older adults, or people with disabilities.
- Close doors behind you as you escape.
- If there is smoke blocking your way out, use your second way. If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to find your way out.
- Choose a meeting place a safe distance in front of your home where everyone should go to once they have escaped.
- Always keep a cell phone with you or nearby in the event of an emergency.
- Once outside, call the fire department on 9-1-1 from a cell phone or a neighbor’s phone. Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number for your fire department.
- Once you are out of the home, stay out! Never go back into a burning building to rescue people, pets, or retrieve belongings.
- If you cannot get to someone who needs help, leave the home and call 9-1-1. Tell the emergency operator where the person is located.
- Routinely practice E.D.I.T.H. at night and during the day with everyone in your home at least twice a year.
According to a National Fire Protection Association survey, less than one-fourth of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire-escape plan. In addition, roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in home fires in half. On the other hand, automatic fire sprinkler systems cut the risk of dying in a home fire by about 80 percent. Sprinklers are highly effective because they can contain or may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive on the scene. Sprinklers reduce the risk of death or injury from a fire because they dramatically reduce the heat, flames and smoke produced, allowing people time to evacuate the home.
If you have any questions regarding home fire-escape planning or home fire safety, please contact the Division of the Fire Marshal, Office of Research Services at (301) 496-0487.