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More than 4,000 Americans die each year in fires, and approximately 20,000 are injured. Deaths resulting from failed emergency escapes are particularly avoidable.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) believes that having a sound escape plan will greatly reduce fire deaths and protect you and your family's safety if a fire occurs.

HAVE A SOUND FIRE ESCAPE PLAN

In the event of a fire, remember - time is the biggest enemy and every second counts! Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly. In less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for a house to fill with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS

  • Practice Escaping From Every Room In The Home

    Practice escape plans every month. The best plans have two ways to get out of each room. If the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need a second way out. A secondary route might be a window onto an adjacent roof or using an Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) approved collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows. Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly and that security bars can be properly opened. Also, practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.

  • Security Bars Require Special Precautions

    Security bars may help to keep your family safe from intruders, but they can also trap you in a deadly fire! Windows and doors with security bars must have quick release devices to allow them to be opened immediately in an emergency. Make sure everyone in the family understands and practices how to properly operate and open locked or barred doors and windows.

  • Immediately Leave The Home

    When a fire occurs, do not waste any time saving property. Take the safest exit route, but if you must escape through smoke, remember to crawl low, under the smoke and keep your mouth covered. The smoke contains toxic gases which can disorient you or, at worst, overcome you.

  • Never Open Doors That Are Hot To The Touch

    When you come to a closed door, use the back of your hand to feel the top of the door, the doorknob, and the crack between the door and door frame to make sure that fire is not on the other side. If it feels hot, use your secondary escape route. Even if the door feels cool, open it carefully. Brace your shoulder against the door and open it slowly. If heat and smoke come in, slam the door and make sure it is securely closed, then use your alternate escape route.

  • Designate A Meeting Place Outside and Take Attendance

    Designate a meeting location away from the home, but not necessarily across the street. For example, meet under a specific tree or at the end of the driveway or front sidewalk to make sure everyone has gotten out safely and no one will be hurt looking for someone who is already safe. Designate one person to go to a neighbor's home to phone the fire department.

  • Once Out, Stay Out

    Remember to escape first, then notify the fire department using the 911 system or proper local emergency number in your area. Never go back into a burning building for any reason. Teach children not to hide from firefighters. If someone is missing, tell the firefighters. They are equipped to perform rescues safely.

Finally, having working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home dramatically increases your chances of survival. Smoke alarm batteries need to be tested every month and changed with new ones at least once a year. Also, consider replacing the entire smoke alarm every ten years, or as the manufacturer guidelines recommend.


Security Bars

More than 4,000 Americans die each year in fires, and approximately 20,000 are injured. Security bars may help keep your family safe from intruders, but they can also trap you in a deadly fire!The United States Fire Administration (USFA) encourages individuals to use the following tips to help reduce the number of fire injuries and deaths associated with security bars on windows and doors preventing fire escape.

Use Quick Release Devices On Barred Windows and Doors

Windows and doors with security bars should have quick release devices to allow them to be opened immediately in an emergency. These devices operate from inside and allow the bars to be opened for emergency escape without compromising the security of your home. The quick release devices should be easy to open without the use of a key, detailed knowledge or great physical effort. Release devices vary by region and manufacturer. Contact your local fire department on a non-emergency number for information on approved release devices available in your area.

Consider Retrofitting Current Security Bars

Security bars on windows and locked doors prevent escape from fire and also impede firefighters' rescue attempts. If the security bars in your home are permanently fixed or do not have quick release devices, they should be retrofitted with release devices.

Be Aware Of Security Bar Issues When Practicing Fire Escape Routes

Know and practice fire escape plans monthly, and use them to identify and correct obstructions of windows and doors needed for escape from a deadly fire. Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly and that security bars can be properly opened.

It is important that everyone in the family understands and practices how to properly operate locked or barred windows and doors. Windows should open easily and be wide enough to allow escape, and locked or barred doors should operate quickly and easily.

Plan Two Exits Out Of Each Room

The best escape plans have two ways to get out of each room. If the primary exit is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need a second way out. A secondary route might be a window onto an adjacent roof or an Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) approved collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows.

Designate A Meeting Place Outside and Take Attendance

Designate a meeting location away from the home, but not necessarily across the street. For example, meet under a specific tree, at the end of the driveway, or on the front sidewalk to make sure everyone has gotten out safely. Designate one person to go to a neighbor's home to phone the fire department.

Once Out, Stay Out

Remember to escape first, then notify the fire department using the 911 system or proper local emergency number in your area. Never go back into a burning building for any reason. Teach children not to hide from firefighters.

Finally, having working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home dramatically increases your chances of survival. Smoke alarm batteries need to be tested every month and changed with new ones at least once a year. Also, consider replacing the entire smoke alarm every ten years, or as the manufacturer guidelines recommend.

Courtesy of U.S. Fire Administration

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