I have a challenge for you. Wherever you’re reading this blog post, look around the room you’re in. Do you know two ways that you could safely exit the room in the event of a fire?
Sunday marks the beginning of Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 7-13), and the fire service, teachers, and others in your communities across the U.S. will be sharing fire safety tips, with a focus on the importance of knowing how to safely evacuate your home, school, or office during a fire. We’ll be using the slogan “Have Two Ways Out”, which is a key ingredient in knowing the fire escape plan for wherever you are.
Since I started in the fire service over 40 years ago, I’ve talked with hundreds of people that have been affected by fires in some way. Before I get into how you can get involved with this year’s Fire Prevention Week, I wanted to share two quick points that I’ve learned through these conversations, specifically related to this year’s theme for Fire Prevention Week.
First, practicing your fire escape plan can save the life of someone you love. A fire can take your possessions, but it doesn’t have to take your life, or the life of a loved one. Twenty minutes – that’s how long it took my family to have our fire drill at home. I make fire safety a priority in my home because I’ve seen the tragic results of families and individuals not being able to safely get out of their homes when there was a fire. In addition, I have heard many stories from people who said they were able to escape during a fire because they had practiced and understood the fire escape plan.
Secondly, making fire safety a “family affair” leads to results. Over the years many parents told me that their children had learned about fire drills either from visits to the fire department or from fire fighters coming to their school. As a result, kids were excited about having a family fire drill and practicing getting out of your home safely. Children can be great agents of change within their households – especially when they’re inspired by a role model like a local firefighter. So I encourage you to make practicing your fire escape plan a fun activity for your family, and there are a few ways that the U.S. Fire Administration can help with that:
- This video, which outlines the key reminders for home fire safety:
- PDF guides for creating a home safety checklist or fire escape plan
- Easy-to-understand fire safety tips on the USFA website
Now, how can you get involved in Fire Prevention Week? Simple. I’m asking everyone to do two simple things this week:
- Practice your fire escape plan at home, school, or the office. Walk through each room and identify two ways out, being mindful that the smoke alarms work in each room as well. And make sure you decide on a safe meeting spot outside in the event of a fire. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at the resources listed above – they can help you get the ball rolling.
- Say “Thank You” to your local fire department. The men and women in the fire service risk their lives, sometimes on a daily basis, to protect lives and property. I know from experience that getting a “thank you” card or visit from someone in the community can energize and stick with the department for a long time.
I hope that you will take my fire drill challenge. It takes just a little bit of time to make such a huge difference in the safety of your loved ones. Remember, “Have Two Ways Out!"
- For more information about fire preparedness, visit Ready.gov/fires.
- For more about the U.S. Fire Administration, visit usfa.fema.gov.