Fire Prevention Week will mark its 100th anniversary that will run through October 15 with a theme that reflects a major challenge in modern fire safety: “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.”
“Modern residential fires burn much faster than they did in past decades,” said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. “Changes in building construction, manufacturing, and furnishing mean you could have less than three minutes to escape a fire at home today, compared to 15 minutes or more in the 1970s. That’s why it’s so important to have working smoke alarms and a practiced escape plan that includes two ways out.”
“Over 60% of Massachusetts fire deaths last year took place in the overnight hours,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “Smoke alarms are your first line of defense, so be sure they’re on every level of your home and working properly. When you hear that alarm, everyone at home should know it’s time to get out, stay out, and call 9-1-1.”
Smoke alarms should have a manufacturing date printed on the back. Alarms older than 10 years old should be replaced with new alarms that have a sealed, long-life battery. When choosing an alarm, select one from a well-known national brand that’s listed by an independent lab such as UL or Intertek/ETL. Test alarms monthly to be sure they’re working properly.
Home Escape Planning
“No matter how big or small your household is, every home needs an escape plan,” State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said. “Consider any special needs you or your loved ones might have, including young children, older adults, and people with disabilities.”
When creating your escape plan, look for two ways out of every room – and remember that one of them may be a window. Keep those escape routes clear of furniture, clutter, and other obstructions. If you have security fittings on doors or windows, be sure they can be removed or disengaged quickly from inside.
Pick a family meeting place out front a safe distance away from the house. The meeting place should be permanent, like a tree, mailbox, or light pole, and located where firefighters can easily find you.
Once you’ve planned your escape route, practice it at least twice a year. Try it during the day and at night so everyone is familiar with it – even if they’re tired or groggy. Remember that you may have to “get low and go” in the event of smoke.
100 Years of Fire Prevention Week
Fire Prevention Week is observed annually in the week that contains Oct. 9 – the date on which Great Chicago Fire of 1871 caused most devastation. The National Fire Protection Association has sponsored and promoted Fire Prevention Week annually since 1922, making it the longest-running public health observance on record.