For Fires, Every Second Counts
Every second counts during a fire. Fire experts agree; people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it's too late to get out. In a matter of moments, a small flame can become a major fire, making it critical to be prepared and have an escape plan in place. A survey conducted by the American Red Cross shows only 26 percent of families have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. Once a plan is developed, it is critical everyone in the home understands the plan; the best way to do this is by practicing the escape plan at least twice a year. Increase your chance of surviving a fire by ensuring you have working smoke detectors in place, building an escape plan, and then practicing the escape plan. The following are a few suggestions to help you develop an emergency escape plan.
Draw a map of each level of your home and show all doors and windows. Find two ways to get out of each room. Make sure all doors and windows that lead outside open easily.
Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second and third floors. Only purchase collapsible escape ladders evaluated by a recognized testing laboratory. Store them near the window where they will be used.
Choose an outside meeting place 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.
Teach children how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them. Plan for everyone in your home, with special considerations for elderly or disable individuals.
Practice your fire escape plan during the day and at nighttime, at least twice a year.
Keep Fall Fire-Free
The fall season brings cooler temperatures, beautiful colors, and an abundance of outdoor activities. Plan ahead this season to help ensure it is safe and fire-free.
- Fall decorations, like dried flowers and cornstalks, are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations away from open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
- Keep emergency exits clear of decorations so nothing blocks escape routes.
- Teach children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire.
- Remember safety first when choosing a Halloween costume. Consider avoiding billowing fabric. If you are making your costume, choose material that won't easily ignite if it comes into contact with heat or a flame.
- It is safest to use a flashlight or battery-operated candle in a jack-o-lantern. Use extreme caution if using a real candle. Place lit pumpkins away from anything that can burn, and ouf of they way of doorsteps, walkways, and yards.
A Business Plan...For Fire Emergencies
An emergency escape plan is not required for all businesses; however, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends building an emergency action plan to protect yourself, your employees, and your business during an emergency. OSHA suggests the following steps when developing such a plan.
- Organize an Emergency Preparedness Procedures review with employees to review your company's emergency plans. You may wish to select an individual or team of individuals to lead and coordinate your emergency plan.
- Once a plan is developed, post evacuation procedures, including routes and exits, where they are easily accessible to all employees. Ensure all exits and routes are clearly marked and well lit, wide enough to accommodate the number of evacuating personnel, and unobstructed and clear of debris at all times.
- Conduct office evacuation exercises and drills. Designate a safe spot outside of the facility where employees can regroup, recover, and conduct a head count. Once completed, evaluate how well the plan worked and if additional training or exercises are needed.