It is Fire Prevention Week, but being prepared should be a year-round practice. The theme of this year's event, as campaigned by the National Fire Protection Association, is "Have 2 Ways Out."
It is important to have a home fire escape plan that prepares your family to think fast and get out quickly when the smoke alarm sounds. What if your first escape route is blocked by smoke or flames? That's why having two ways out is such a key part of your plan.
It's scary to think about, but, according to the NFPA, an estimated 369,500 home structure fires took place in the United States 2010, with 2,640 civilian deaths and more than 13,000 civilian injuries as a result.
Statistics show us that most fatal fires kill one or two people. In 2010, however, the NFPA reported that 5 or more people were killed in each of 19 home fires resulting in 101 total deaths.
Some of these deaths may have been averted by having an escape plan.
One in every three homes actually have developed and practiced a fire escape plan. Have you?
It's simple to devise, actually.
Here's some tips:
Draw a map of your home, showing all doors and windows.
Know at least two ways out of every room.
Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily.
Have an outside meeting place (tree, light pole, mailbox).
Practice the plan both at night and day at least twice a year.
Practice using different ways out of the home.
Teach children how to escape on their own in case they can't be reached.
Close doors behind you as you leave.
Smoke alarms also can be a life-saving device. Unfortunately, roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or non-working smoke alarms.
Take the time this week to check your home smoke alarms, and always test them at least once a month by using the test button.
It doesn't take long to prepare an escape route. Smoke alarms, meanwhile, are inexpensive and at times throughout the year are provided free.
And both can save lives - perhaps yours and your families.