During a recent five-year study by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to 1,000 home fires every day, on average. This alarming statistic equates to 42 fires every hour. Furthermore, a civilian-related fire death occurs once every 2 hours, highlighting the severity of the situation. Notably, a staggering 75% of all deaths resulting from fires take place in home fires.
Today, the average home burns in just three or four minutes, leaving occupants roughly 2-3 minutes to get out (Underwriters Laboratories).
Smoke inhalation is the primary cause (50%-80%) of fire-related deaths, and kills more people than burns. Additionally, smoke inhalation kills in just a few minutes, quickly obscures vision, burns your respiratory tract, and creates disorientation that can prevent a safe escape. Within 1-2 minutes, a room will be engulfed in poisonous smoky air. In a matter of moments, just two or three breaths can cause you to pass out, leading to rapid death.
A usable escape route must not only be free of fire – it must also be free of smoke. Unfortunately, it is a fact that fire in a hallway area can block access to the escape route. A smoky escape route is a bad escape route.
In multi-story homes, bedrooms are generally upstairs, and when fires occur on the ground floor, it is, in many cases, impossible to escape that way.
With foldaway fire ladders mounted in the right places, there will always be safe escape routes, at a fraction of the cost of a real fire escape.
Basic Fire Safety Facts
1. Have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
- Once a month, check whether each alarm in the home is working properly by pushing the test button.
- Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Immediately install a new battery if an alarm chirps, warning the battery is low.
- Replace smoke alarms every 10 years
2. Create an escape plan
- Walk through the house planning all escape routes and exits
- Agree on a meeting place where everyone will gather after you have escaped
- Discuss the plan with your family
- Make sure each of your children knows what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one
- Practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year and at different times of the day.
- Practice waking up to smoke alarms, low crawling and meeting outside. Make sure everyone knows how to call 911.
- Emphasize “get out, stay out.” Only professional firefighters should enter a building that is on fire—even if other family members, pets or prized possessions are inside.
Use quick-release devices on barred windows and doors. Security bars without release devices can trap you in a deadly fire. If you have security bars on your windows, be sure one window in each sleeping room has a release device.
- Consider getting escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second or third floor. Learn how to use them, and store them near the windows. The Safe Escape ladder is always available right at your window at all times for immediate escape.
- Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.
3. Do a “Blindfold Test”
- If you really want to train for a major house fire do a blindfold test; both you and the family members, including the kids. In fact, the kids will probably love it.
- Pick a room that you feel that you could get trapped in (i.e. a bedroom). Picture in your mind that the room is very hot and filled with heavy dark smoke, that you can’t even see where the door is. Think that you must get out safely and what path you will escape by.
- Now, let’s engage in a simple yet impactful exercise. Begin by putting on a blindfold and gently lowering yourself to the floor. As you find yourself in this unique position, envision your path in your mind. Anticipate the barriers and obstacles that may come your way and consider how you will skillfully navigate around them while crawling along the floor. This exercise not only promotes awareness but also challenges your mental imagery and problem-solving skills.
4. Have a fire extinguisher – Here are the five essential places to keep a fire extinguisher in your home:
- The kitchen – close to 50% of all home fires start here
- Near sources of heat – room heaters, chimneys
- Each floor of your home
- The garage often contains combustibles
- The bedrooms – most fires happen at night, so every bedroom should have easy access, and even kids can be trained to operate safely and effectively.
Always know where your fire extinguishers are located.
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