NASHVILLE – If you woke up to a fire in your home, how much time do you think you would have to get to safety? According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), one-third of American households estimated that it would take at least six minutes before a fire in their home would become life-threatening. Unfortunately, the time available is often much less.
The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office is urging Tennesseans to create a home fire escape plan similar to the one featured in this public service announcement developed by the Oak Ridge Fire Department.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office also offers the following tips for making your own home fire escape plan:
Plan Your Escape
• Draw a floor-plan of your home, marking two ways out of every room.
• Agree on an outside meeting place (something permanent, like a tree, light pole, or mailbox) a safe distance from the home where everyone should gather in an emergency.
• Practice your home fire drill at night and during the day with everyone in your home, twice a year. Practice using different ways out.
• Install smoke alarms inside and outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home.
• Test your smoke alarms monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years.
• Ensure everyone in the household knows the sound of the smoke alarm and what it signifies.
• Ensure everyone in the household can unlock and open all doors and windows, even in the dark.
• If a room has a window air conditioner, make sure there is still a second way out of the room. Windows with security bars, grills, and window guards should have emergency release devices. Make sure you can operate these.
• Children, older adults, and people with disabilities may need assistance to wake up and get out. Make sure that someone will help them.
• Teach your children how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them.
• If the smoke alarm sounds or fire is discovered in your home, get out fast.
• Doors need to be tested before opening them. Use the back of your hand to see if the door is warm. If it is, use another escape route.
• If you have to escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your way out.
• If you are trapped, close all doors between you and the fire. Stuff the cracks around the doors with clothes or towels to keep out smoke. Call the fire department, wait at a window and signal for help with a light-colored cloth or a flashlight.
• Once you are out, stay out. Don't go back inside for any reason.
• Call the fire department from your safe meeting place.
• If people or pets are trapped, notify the fire department and let them handle the rescue efforts.
For more fire safety information, download the State Fire Marshal’s Office home fire safety checklist at (http://www.tn.gov/fire/documents/HomeFireSafetyChecklist.pdf).