This year the Fire Prevention Week campaign is all about keeping you and your family safer from a fire in your home. In fact, one home structure fire was reported every 87 seconds in 2009. On average, seven people die in home fires every day. Adults 65 and older face the highest risk of fire death.
Everyone in your family has a role to play in your home's fire safety. Both adults and children should be familiar with smoke alarms and home fire escape planning. Below is a family home fire safety checklist to help ensure your family is prepared.
- Does your home have smoke alarms on every level, inside each bedroom, and outside each sleeping area?
- Are the batteries working in all of your smoke alarms?
- Do you know the sound that a smoke alarm makes?
- Does your home have interconnected smoke alarms (when one sounds, do they all sound)?
- Do you test the batteries in the smoke alarms at least once a month?
- Do you know what to do if your smoke alarm sounds?
- Are all of the exits in your home clear of furniture, toys and clutter?
- Does your family have a home fire-escape plan that includes two ways out of each room?
- Has your family picked a safe place to meet outside if a fire occurs?
- Does your entire family practice your home fire-escape plan twice a year?
- Can you see the number of your house from the street?
According to a National Fire Protection Association survey, less than one-fourth of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire-escape plan. In addition, roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in home fires in half. On the other hand, automatic fire sprinkler systems cut the risk of dying in a home fire by about 80%. Sprinklers are highly effective because they can contain or may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive on the scene. Sprinklers reduce the risk of death or injury from a fire because they dramatically reduce the heat, flames and smoke produced, allowing people time to evacuate the home.
If you have any questions regarding home fire safety or home fire-escape planning, please contact the Division of the Fire Marshal, Office of Research Services at (301) 496-0487.