Imagine it’s late at night and you are awakened by the sounds of an alarm and the smell of smoke. There is a fire in your home. Your children are down the hall, and you can’t get to them. Do they know what to do?
This is many parents’ worst nightmare, but for some, it has become a reality.
This scenario is the reason behind this years theme for National Fire Prevention Week, “Practice Your Escape Plan!” This theme focuses on the dangers associated with fires in the home and emphasizes the importance of creating and practicing an escape plan for your family.
National Fire Prevention Week this year will be held Oct. 7-13. Each year, the event is scheduled to fall during the anniversary of the "The Great Chicago Fire" of 1871, one of the most destructive fires of all time. It left more than 250 people dead and over 100,000 homeless. It burned for over 24 hours and destroyed nearly 17,500 buildings and 2,000 acres.
A survey by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), shows that only 23 percent of Americans have thought out their fire escape plan and practiced it regularly.
The NFPA has also stated that in 2006, 80 percent of all fire deaths in America were caused by home fires. During that year, an estimated 2,600 people were killed and 12,500 were injured by fires in the home.
According to NFPA’s Judy Comoletti, AVP of public education, “You can have as little as two minutes to get out when fire strikes. Having a plan that has been practiced greatly increases your chances of surviving a fire.”
This year, the NFPA is taking an extra step to ensure that everyone gets involved with National Fire Protection Week. They are offering games and activities designed to help people prepare for escape in the case of a fire. These games and activities will be available at no cost during the entire month of October at www.firepreventionweek.org or www.sparky.org.
In a recent press release, the NFPA offered the following tips for home fire escape planning:
•Install and maintain working smoke alarms on every level, inside each bedroom and outside of each sleeping area.
•Develop a fire escape plan that identifies two ways out of each room and a family meeting place outside.
•Make sure your plan allows for any specific needs in your household. If everyone knows what to do, everyone can get out quickly.
•Practice your plan at least twice a year.
•Some studies have shown that some children and adults may not awaken to the sound of a smoke alarm; they may need help waking up.
•If the smoke alarm sounds: Go to your closest exit, and if there is smoke on your way out, turn and use your second way out. If you must exit through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your exit. Don’t take time to pick up belongings; just get out and help others out. Move fast but stay calm.
Columbus Division of Fire
The Columbus Division of Fire will celebrate National Fire Prevention Month during the entire month of October.
The CFD emphasizes the same safety tips as those released by the NFPA, but has added one of their own. They have requested that each resident take time to make sure that their house number is easily visible from the road, making it easier for responding emergency personnel to find your home.
The Columbus Division of Fire will take part in the following events in observance of National Fire Prevention Week:
•This year’s Fire Prevention Week will begin with the annual Columbus Division of Fire Memorial Service on Oct. 7 at 1:30 p.m. at Firefighters Memorial Park at the intersection of Marconi Boulevard and Gay Street. The event is a tribute for both active and retired firefighters who have died in the past year.
•The department will participate in the tradition of “The Great American Fire Drill,” the world’s largest fire drill, scheduled for Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. During that time, every available engine will pull out in front of the fire houses and turn on their emergency lights for one minute. This will signal all participating residents to begin practicing their escape plan.
•The Columbus Division of Fire will bring Fire Prevention Week to a close by sponsoring an open house at all Columbus Fire Stations on Oct. 13 from 1-4 p.m. Residents are encouraged to stop by their neighborhood fire station and bring along fire escape plans and questions for firefighters. Firefighters will conduct station tours, check escape plans and oofer fire prevention tips.
•Columbus residents can request a free smoke detector and home fire safety inspection by calling 645-7377.
Prairie Township Fire Department
The Prairie Township Fire Department is referring to October as “Fire Prevention Month.”
Firefighters will spend the month teaching fire safety to 3,200 children from area churches, schools and preschools within the township, grades pre-kindergarten through fourth.
Using various tools, all children are taught the dangers of fire, how to crawl below smoke and to “Stop, drop and roll.”
Firefighters will teach the youngest children how to use 9-1-1. They will also talk with the children while dressed in full turnout gear, encouraging them not to be afraid of firefighters.
First and second-grade students learn about fire hazards inside of the home, while third and fourth-graders are taught about fire prevention and how smoke and firetravels.
“Remember, fire escape plans are for all age groups,” said Prairie Township Firefighter James Troesch.
He added that all residents should have one or more smoke detector in thier home, and that those detectors should be tested once per month.
Troesch offered that a good way to remeber to change smoke detector batteries is do so when clocks change in the spring and fall.
All residents of Prairie Township are invited to visit a Prairie Township Fire Station. There, they can talk with firefighters about safety and tour the station. Firefighters can also provide residents information on how to develop and practice home escape plans.