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Home escape planning

Home escape planning

Posted: Friday, October 14, 2011 7:02 pm
By: Bob Dudley

What’s the best way to protect your family from fire? Be ahead of the game, of course. When it comes to fire, your best defense is a good offense.
Weakley County fire departments are teaming up with the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) this week, to let our community know: “It’s Fire Prevention Week. Protect your Family from Fire!”
As always, the focus of FPW is to prevent home fires.
This year, the campaign is also urging people to protect their homes and families with life-saving technology and planning.
While our fire departments do their best to educate the community on preventing home fires, sometimes our best efforts may not be enough to keep a home safe.
In 2009, U.S. fire departments responded to more than 360,000 home fires which caused 12,650 injuries and 2,565 deaths.
Seconds and minutes can mean the difference between life and death. We want to ensure that Weakley County residents know what to do if a fire breaks out in their home.
Preparation is an important part of being able to deal with an emergency and it is crucial you take steps to prepare your family for the potential of a home fire by having an escape plan and practicing it.
Although preparing for the unexpected is difficult, reviewing the information below and taking action based on it to plan for a fire could save lives.
Planning your escape
• Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible ways out of your home.  Households with children should consider drawing a map of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors.
Also, mark the location of each smoke alarm. Everyone in the household must understand the escape plan. When you walk through your plan, check to make sure the ways out are clear and doors and windows can be opened easily.
• Choose an outside meeting place (i.e. neighbor’s house, a light post, mailbox, or stop sign) a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they’ve escaped. Make sure to mark the location of the meeting place on your escape plan.
• Have everyone memorize the emergency phone number of the fire department. That way any member of the household can call from a neighbor’s home or a cellular phone once safely outside.
• If there are infants, older adults, or family members with mobility limitations, make sure that someone is assigned to assist them in the fire drill and in the event of an emergency. Assign a backup person too, in case the designee is not home during the emergency.
• Be fully prepared for a real fire: when a smoke alarm sounds, get outside immediately.
• Once you’re outside, stay outside! Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. If someone is missing, inform the fire department dispatcher when you call. Firefighters have the skills and equipment to perform rescues.
Putting your plan
to the test
• Practice your home fire escape drill twice a year, making the drill as realistic as possible.
• Make arrangements in your plan for anyone in your home who has a disability.
• Always choose the way out that is safest – the one with the least amount of smoke and heat – but be prepared to escape under toxic smoke if necessary. When you do your fire drill, everyone in the family should practice getting low and going under the smoke to your way out.
• Closing doors on your way out slows the spread of fire, giving you more time to safely escape.
• In some cases, smoke or fire may prevent you from exiting your home or apartment building. To prepare for an emergency like this, practice “sealing yourself in for safety” as part of your home fire escape plan. Close all doors between you and the fire.
Use duct tape or towels to seal the door cracks and cover air vents to keep smoke from coming in. If possible, open your windows at the top and bottom so fresh air can get in.
For more information about these events, the Greenfield Fire Department can be reached at 235-2645.
For more information about Fire Prevention Week and escape planning – including a grid to map your own escape plan – visit NFPA’s Web site at
Don’t forget to practice your escape plan during Fire Prevention Week!
Bob Dudley is the chief of the Greenfield Fire Department and the chairman of the Weakley County Fire Chiefs Association.

WCP 10.13.11

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