About every nine minutes, the Red Cross responds to a fire. Here in Colorado, we respond to about one home fire a day, on average.
Although home fires are the most common disaster year-round, we typically see an uptick in home fires with the first cold snap – so in October we commemorate National Fire Prevention Week. But whether it’s a designated week or not, it’s always a good time to get yourself prepared for a possible home fire. The theme this year is “Have Two Ways Out,” which means just that: you should have two ways out of your home in case of a fire. And that means you should develop a plan that includes at least two ways out of each room in your house. And with all planning, it’s important to practice that plan, preferably twice a year. If there is a fire, it’s important to follow your escape plan, get and stay outside, and to call 9-1-1.
When I was younger, my parents, my sister and I mapped ways out of our house pretty regularly. One year, my sister and I were supposed to climb out a window to a lower ledge and then jump down, where my dad would catch us. An unfortunate timing incident ended in my dad’s glasses breaking into two pieces and hours of uncontrollable laughter. So planning for a home fire can be more than just an important family activity, it can also be quality family time (with or without broken glasses).
We’d encourage you to take the time this month to map your way out and talk to your family about your escape plan. And while you’re at it, please consider the below safety tips to make sure your house is free of some of the most common fire dangers:
- Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
- Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of the house and inside bedrooms.
- Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Test each alarm monthly by pushing the test button.
Find more tips and tools for making your household emergency plan at www.redcross.org.