To the Editor:
If a fire broke out in your home, do you know how much time you would have to get out?
Unfortunately, no one knows for sure. According to the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than one out of every four American households who made an estimate thought they would have at least six minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening.
The time available is often less.
While most people feel safe in their homes, the reality is that home fires are much more common than people might think.
There were nearly 400,000 home fires reported in 2006 in the United States, resulting in more than 2,500 civilian deaths and 12,500 civilian injuries.
Home fires caused 80 percent of civilian deaths and 76 percent of injuries.
In a perfect world, we would be able to prevent all home fires. In reality, we can be vigilant, but there are no guarantees.
Any emergency can affect one's ability to think clearly, but during a fire, smoke and other physical factors can literally inhibit your ability to react.
Preparing for the unexpected is difficult.
But when it comes to home fires, minutes, even seconds, can mean the difference between life and death.
That's why having well-practiced fire escape plan is vital to your families safety.
Here are the basics of home fire escape planning to get you and your family started:
Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home and have one inside each bedroom and outside of each sleeping area.
For the best protection, interconnect alarms so that when one sounds, they all sound.
Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
Develop a fire escape plan that identifies two ways out of each room and a family meeting place outside.
Make sure your plan allows for any specific needs in your household.
If everyone knows what to do, everyone can get out quickly.
Practice using the plan at least twice a year.
If everyone knows that everyone else is ready to exit quickly, no one will lose precious time trying to help someone who doesn't need help.
Some children and adults may not awaken to the sound of the smoke alarm.
They may need help to wake up.
This Oct. 5-11 was Fire Prevention Week. While this year's theme is "Prevent Home Fires," we want Clay County residents to be prepared. Currently, only 35 percent of U.S. households have a well-practiced plan in place for escaping home fires. Jackson Twp. Fire and Rescue is encouraging local families to make a fire escape plan and practice it.
There is also an opportunity individuals and communities to join together to promote fire safety and be a part of The Great American Fire Drill.
Fire is unpredictable.
But preparation in the form of a well-practiced escape plan -- at least twice a year -- can help keep you and your family safe, and potentially save lives.
Jackson Twp. Fire & Rescue