MCNABB — No one expects a fire to break out in their home, but in those unfortunate cases, every second counts. In the chaos of a burning home, it’s important for each family member to know what to do, so everyone escapes to safety.
The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) annual Fire Safety Week is scheduled for Oct. 8 to 14 and this year’s theme is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!”
Putnam County EMS Chief Andy Jackson was recently asked to share some advice to help local families be prepared in the event of a house fire.
“The big thing that families should do on a regular basis is to practice getting out of their house or apartment in a safe manner and to make sure everyone knows where to go and meet,’” Jackson said.
While fire will quickly grow, the smoke and heat it creates moves even faster, which is why practicing EDITH (Exit Drills In The Home) can be vital for a family’s safety.
If a family is awakened from their sleep by a fire, everyone must ensure their next actions are not only quick, but also correct. During a deadly fire, there’s little time to think about details, the most important thing is to react and get out of the home.
“This is why it’s so important that when the fire department, police, and EMS personnel arrive on scene that the family be able to tell them if everyone has gotten out of the house or apartment safely,” Jackson said.
The ability to receive an early warning is also an essential part of fire safety. Having smoke and carbon monoxide detectors located throughout the home is crucial and their batteries should be changed at least annually.
Sitting down with family to create an emergency exit plan can be an important part of their safety. Families not only need to practice their strategy with children and elder residents, but also involve them in the planning because safety is important to everyone, especially during an emergency.
“And just as important as getting out of the fire, is that once you are out, please do not go back into the fire at all,” Jackson said.
The NFPA advises families to draw a map of their home, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit. It’s also beneficial to practice your home fire drill twice a year. One should be conducted at night and one should occur during the day and each exit route should be practiced. Children should also be taught how to escape on their own in case no one is there to assist them.
Additionally, ensure your house number is clearly marked and visible for the fire department as they respond. As family members leave the home they should be mindful to close any doors as they exit. Closing doors will help restrict oxygen to the fire and this may slow the spread of the deadly combination of fire, smoke and heat. And once again, it’s imperative that family members stay outside and never go back inside their burning home.