Practice escape routes now to save lives later
√ ‘Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.’
Guest Editorial by The Firefighters Association of the State of New York
If your fire alarm were to go off right now, would you know what to do or where to go? What if you were stuck in the dark? What about your family and roommates? In the event of a house fire, you may have as little as two minutes to safely escape before smoke eclipses your vision. It is critical to practice escape routes ahead of time, so you will know what to do in an emergency, rather than allowing the panic of the situation to become the difference between life and death.
In support of Fire Prevention Month and Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 9-15), The Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY) urges New Yorkers to develop and rehearse an escape strategy to stay prepared in the event of an emergency. Knowing your exits is especially important if a family is renting or visiting a home they may be unfamiliar with.
“It’s critical to plan and practice a home fire escape route. Everyone needs to be prepared in advance, so that they know what to do when the smoke alarm sounds. Every home is different, so every home fire escape plan will also be different,” said Ed Tase, president of the Firefighters Association of the State of New York. “Have a plan that accommodates everyone in the home. Children, older adults and people with disabilities may need assistance to wake up and get out. Make sure that someone will know how to help them!”
A key part of every escape plan is to have a single rendezvous point that all people in the structure go to.
Escape plans are not the only thing that residents should do to prepare for emergencies – checking that smoke alarms are operating properly is also essential. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors can give residents critical time to escape a home during an emergency. According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), three out of every five home fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms or in homes lacking smoke detectors. New York has the third-most home fire fatalities in the country this year, closely behind Pennsylvania and Texas. More than 80% of fire-related casualties in New York are a result of residential fires, compared to the countrywide average of 76%.
“Having an effective escape plan is tied to having working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors,” Tase said. “Smoke detectors are the first line of defense during a home fire. We urge all New Yorkers to ensure their homes, and any homes they are visiting or renting, have functional smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms.”
To find out more about Fire Prevention Week programs and activities in New York, visit www.fasny.com. For more information about Fire Prevention Week and fire prevention in general, visit fpw.org and sparky.org.
FASNY Fire Escape Planning Tips
√ Make sure your plan meets the needs of all your family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities.
√ Smoke alarms should be installed inside every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of your home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound.
√ If possible, know at least two ways out of every room. Make sure all doors and windows open easily.
√ Have an outside meeting place a safe distance from your home where everyone should meet.
√ Practice your home fire drill at least twice a year with everyone in the household, including guests. Practice at least once during the day and at night.
Founded in 1872, the Firefighters Association of the State of New York represents the interests of the more than 85,000 volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel in New York state. For more information, visit www.fasny.com.
Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on Oct. 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on Oct. 9, 1871. For more information, visit www.NFPA.org.