Imagine the high-pitched beeping from a smoke alarm wakes you up in the middle of the night. A dried-out Christmas tree has ignited in your living room. How much time do you think you have to get out safely? The truth is surprising to most people — it’s just two minutes or less.
In a survey by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), one-third of those questioned thought they would have at least six minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening. Being prepared for a fire emergency is why the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) and the Board of Supervisors have proclaimed October 2017 as Fire Prevention month.
This year’s theme, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” reinforces the need for everyone to have an escape plan in the event of a fire emergency. In 2016, the Los Angeles County Fire Department responded to over 4,000 structure fires. The fuel packages found within today’s modern homes can reach full room flashover in under four minutes compared to the 29 minutes for a legacy home. Additionally, many of today’s products and furnishings also produce toxic gases and smoke when burned, making it impossible to see and breathe within moments.
These conditions contribute to a much smaller window of time for residents to escape a home fire safely. A home fire escape plan provides the know-how for quickly and safely escaping a fire. The LACoFD encourages and challenges residents to make it a priority to sit down with members of your household to create a home fire escape plan this coming week.
Making time to prepare a plan with everyone in your household is a worthwhile and potentially life-saving investment. The NFPA offers the following seven steps for practicing your household’s escape plan:
- Draw a map of your home, include all doors and windows.
- Find two ways out of every room.
- Make sure doors and windows are not blocked.
- Choose an outside meeting place in front of your home.
- Push the test button to sound the smoke alarm.
- Practice your drill with everyone in the home.
- Get outside to your meeting place.
For additional tips on creating your home fire escape plan, please visit the Los Angeles County Fire Department website at www.fire.lacounty.gov. Children can also continue learning at www.sparky.org where there are many fun fire safety videos, apps and games created just for them.