Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out

By Olivia Schwartz

Fire Prevention Week’s theme for 2018, “Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out” calls all of us to be aware of fire safety measures in the home.

Fire Prevention Week started in 1925 when former U.S. President Calvin Coolidge signed the proclamation recognizing the occasion, and igniting a fire service tradition. The event always falls across the week of October 9th in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which destroyed more than 17,400 structures across more than 2,000 acres. In result, over 100,000 people were left homeless and more than 250 people loosed their lives

This year’s theme is “Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out,” to better educate the public on how quickly today’s home fires can spread, and how little time they may have to escape safely. According to the NFPA, “the synthetic fibers used in modern home furnishings, along with the fact that newer homes tend to be built with more open spaces and unprotected lightweight construction, all contribute to an increased rate at which fire burns.”

There are a variety of ways to take steps to make sure your home is fire safe, including:

  • Draw a map of your home(PDF) with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
  • Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
  • Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
  • Close doors behind you as you leave – this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
  • Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.

Fire safety is important for everyone, especially for educators who interact with children on a daily basis. It is important for children to understand the dangers of fires, and to work with their family to devise a plan of escape. The NFPA website has many educational resources for schools including a fire prevention week banner, a coloring sheet, and a video series with Sparky the dog.

Not sure how you can get involved in Fire Prevention Week? Check out the NFPA website where you will find fast facts about fires, a fire prevention week quiz, and can live chat with someone from the association to ask questions. Encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to take the quiz to test their knowledge on the danger of fires today. Ensure that the smoke alarms in your home function properly. If you do not have smoke alarms, install them as soon as possible. Lastly, many fire associations and foundations host events like 5k runs which raise money for fire departments. Check your local newspaper to attend an event and promote fire safety in your community.