National Fire Prevention Week
By LENNY C. LEPOLA
News Assistant Managing Editor
On Saturday, August 6, members of the BST&G Fire District held an open house at the fire station as part of National Fire Prevention Week, with this year’s theme “Have 2 ways Out” focusing on the importance of escape planning and practice.
BST&G Chief Jeff Wilson said while many families have a basic plan to get out of a burning home and meet at a designated place so everyone knows all members of the family are safe, very few families have an escape plan with alternate ways out of a home in a fire emergency, and even fewer families practice their escape plans.
“A home fire hits in this country every 85 seconds, and 85 percent of all fire deaths are caused by home fires,” Wilson said. “Every three hours someone dies in a home fire, that’s roughly seven people each day, and someone is injured in a home fire every 39 minutes.”
Wilson said most fatal fires kill one or two people. In 2010, 19 home fires killed five or more people. These 19 fires resulted in 101 deaths.
Those numbers add up, Wilson said. In 2010, the latest numbers available, 2,640 Americans died in home fires; 13,350 were injured.
“Nobody thinks a home fire will happen to them so they don’t plan, and even if they have a plan they seldom practice that plan,” Wilson said. “Only one in every three American households have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan to ensure they could escape quickly and safely.”
Wilson said having two ways out of each room in a house, and practicing escaping during a fire emergency, is especially important for teaching children what to do in a fire; and once outside Wilson emphasized the importance of everyone in the family meeting at a predetermined location.
Families should practice during both daytime and nighttime hours, using a primary exit route and a secondary exit route. Learn to close doors when leaving rooms to slow a fire’s progress, Wilson added, and if there is smoke stay low where the air is clearer.
Also have a plan to assist anyone needing help to escape a burning home, such as young children, older adults or people with disabilities.
Wilson also recommended that homeowners use smoke alarms, and make certain that batteries are changed periodically. He said almost two-thirds (62 percent) of reported home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
“Nobody thinks a home fire will happen to them,” Wilson said. “But fires continue to happen.”