Today’s home fires burn faster than ever, making escape planning all the more critical to home fire safety.
That’s according to the Morris Fire Department and the National Fire Protection Association, who will be observing National Fire Prevention Week from Oct. 6 to 12.
The NFPA says it takes about
17 minutes to escape a typical home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds, which is why it is imperative that families establish emergency plans well in advance.
That fact is reflected in this year’s theme: “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape.”
Thousands of fire departments across the nation will participate in the annual focus on fire safety. For its part, Morris Fire will be visiting area schools this week to teach children what to do in the event of a fire and how to keep prepared just in case.
The visits will be held one day this week and one day next week, Morris EMS coordinator and public educator Anna Schneidewend said. Schneidewend has been a part of Morris Fire since 2007.
“We want kids to meet firefighters and realize that they’re not scary,” Schneidewend said. “Among other tips, we’ll teach them to make an escape plan with their families, and that they should never, ever go back inside a burning house.”
Members of the NFPA administration give similar advice to families.
“Home escape planning and practice may seem so basic that it’s not even necessary, but in reality, these efforts can have tremendous impact,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of outreach and advocacy. “We’ve seen time and again that advance planning can make a potentially lifesaving difference in a fire situation.”
NFPA statistics show that the number of reported U.S. home fires in 2018 is half that reported in 1980. However, the death rate per 1,000 reported fires has remained steady, reflecting the continued challenges of safely escaping today’s home fires.
Although homes are the places people are at greatest risk to fire – about 80% of all U.S. fire deaths occur in homes – people tend to underestimate their risk. That overconfidence lends itself to a complacency toward home escape planning and practice.
“People don’t think it will ever happen to them,” Schneidewend said. “We need to be on top of changing our smoke and CO2 detector batteries twice a year. When the time changes, change your batteries.”
Morris Fire will be holding their “Touch a Truck” event Oct. 19 at the city parking lot at Washington Street and Route 47.
The demonstration will be open to the public and aims to give a children a chance to explore fire department equipment and familiarize themselves with firefighters. The event will be hosted by Women’s Club of Morris.
Schneidewend also said members of the public are always welcome to visit and tour the two Fire Department facilities in Morris even outside of the observance week.
“Just give us a call first and we’ll be happy to show you around,” Schneidewend said.
NFPA has been the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week since 1922. According to the National Archives and Records Administration’s Library Information Center, Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record.
In 1925, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge signed a proclamation declaring a national observance that Fire Prevention Week will be the week during which Oct. 9 falls.
For safety information relevant even outside of the week, visit www.firepreventionweek.org.