Parents encouraged to run home fire drills

Published 6:37 pm Saturday, October 15, 2016

Only 1 in 5 parents regularly practice fire escape plans at home, and only half of parents report that their children know what to do in the event of a fire.

Yet home fires are the biggest disaster threat facing American families today, with 9 in 10 structure fires occurring in the home and more than 8 in 10 fire-related deaths resulting from home fires.

To raise awareness of this issue and encourage families to be more prepared when it comes to fire safety, Suffolk Fire & Rescue has partnered with Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen program to launch a new national observance day — Home Fire Drill Day — on Oct. 15. Home Fire Drill Day will occur on the last day of the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Prevention Week.


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Home Fire Drill Day tips include:

Prepare for the practice by drawing out a plan based on the exits around the home.

Pick a family safety spot that’s near your home and a safe distance away.

Test your smoke alarms with your kids so they know what the beep sounds like.

For children under 6 years old, assign an adult to help them.

Use a timer to ensure everyone is at the safety spot in two minutes or less; this is how much time a family has to safely exit the house in the event of a fire.

“When a fire happens at home, children can become frightened and hide; that is the last thing we want our children, or anyone for that matter, to do,” said Pam King, Suffolk Fire & Rescue’s public educator and fire investigator. “It is our hope that by practicing for these emergencies, by educating our children, we can save lives and even have a little fun while doing it.”

Simulating an emergency like a fire drill can be scary, but by infusing fun into the at-home practice, parents can help their kids feel safer should a fire actually happen.

“From experience, we have found that most children know what to do, they just cannot hear the alarm if one is not in the bedroom where they sleep,” King said. “Two in the morning with smoky conditions is not the time to learn if they hear the alarm or know how to escape.”

With the help of expert partners, Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen program has developed a series of interactive fire drill games available at that parents can play with their children — from racing the clock, to practicing in the dark or to crawling out of the house as quickly as possible.

Suffolk Fire & Rescue encourages everyone in the community to make Home Fire Drill Day an annual tradition. For more information, contact the Suffolk Fire Marshal’s office at 514-4550 or email