Form home escape plan now

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 17, 2002

It’s become traditional to test smoke alarms when you set your clocks back each fall.

This year, NFPA is urging people to take the occasion to also devise and practice a home escape plan. NFPA also recommends that homeowners consider installing automatic fire sprinkler systems in all newly built homes.

&uot;The widespread use of home smoke alarms is a public-safety triumph,&uot; said John R. Hall, Jr., Ph.D., of NFPA’s Fire Analysis and Research Division. &uot;Smoke alarms are the leading reason that fire deaths in the home have been cut in half since the late 1970s. But just think how many more lives could be saved if all homes also had automatic sprinklers, and everyone knew how to get out quickly in a fire?&uot;

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The NFPA promotes these safety measures:

nWorking smoke alarms. Roughly 19 out of 20 (or 95 percent) of U.S. households have smoke alarms, but one-fifth of those homes remain unprotected – because the alarms aren’t working. When fire deaths occur in homes that have smoke alarms, half those deaths are in homes where the alarm did not sound. The most common reason is dead, missing or disconnected batteries. You should change the batteries when the smoke alarm chirps to warn you that power is getting low, when you change your clock from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time, and when you move into a new home. Replace the entire smoke alarm, whether hard-wired or battery-powered, if it is more than 10 years old.

nEscape plans. Every household should draw up – and practice – a home fire escape plan that includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside all sleeping areas, two ways out of each room, unobstructed and easy-to-use exits, a meeting place outside, and a posted emergency number for the fire department.

Even preschoolers can grasp the basics, and during NFPA’s &uot;Great Escape&uot; campaign recently, 10 million households developed and practiced an escape plan for the first time – but that still left three-fourths of households without one.

nAutomatic fire sprinkler systems. Because they react so quickly, fire sprinklers dramatically reduce heat, flames and smoke. Sprinklers cut the chances of dying in a fire by more than half, and combined with smoke alarms, they cut the chances of dying in a fire by more than 80 percent, relative to having neither. Sprinklers also cut the average property loss in a fire by one-half to two-thirds.

NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating scientifically-based consensus codes and standards, research, training and education. Developer of the Building Construction and Safety Code, National Electrical Code(r), Life Safety Code(r), and 300 other codes and standards, NFPA is also a partner in the development of the Comprehensive Consensus Codes (C3) set for the built environment. The NFPA’s Fire Protection Research Foundation is the world’s only independent charitable