National Fire Safety Month: Family Fire Escape Plans Require Practice to Be Perfect

A survey shows only one in four families have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.


NORTHBROOK, IL (Market Wire) - If your family isn't practicing a home fire escape plan, you're playing with fire. Literally.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a residential fire occurs every 79 seconds. Also, 2,670 people or more than seven per day died in home fires in 2002.

Yet a survey shows only one in four families have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.

``Developing and practicing a home fire escape plan with everyone in your household can mean the difference between life and death,'' says John Drengenberg, manager of Consumer Affairs for Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), a not-for-profit product safety testing organization.

``A fire drill in your apartment, condominium or house requires every family member to practice opening the doors and windows necessary to escape. It also means giving younger children permission to get out of the home on their own, even at night, when they hear the alarm. All family members must be prepared to react when a smoke alarm sounds.''

Drengenberg suggests developing and practicing your fire escape plan in October, during National Fire Safety Month. He offers the following tips:

-- Draw a simple floor plan of your home and mark locations of every smoke alarm. Use arrows or other indicators to show two exits from every room, including windows. Mark an outside location such as a driveway or parking lot where the family will assemble. Write ``Call 911'' on the escape plan.

-- Post the escape plan in a central location, such as the refrigerator door, so all family members can memorize it.

-- Ensure everyone in your household recognizes the sound of the smoke alarm and reacts immediately to get out of the home. Children, older people and those with special needs may not wake up to the sound of a smoke alarm. Consider this when developing your escape plan and take steps to aid their escape.

-- Make sure everyone understands the escape plan by rehearsing it. Are escape routes clear of obstacles, such as couches and tables? Can every family member easily open the doors and windows, including any security bars?

-- In apartments and condos, count the number of doors between yours and the exit. In the dark or in smoke you'll be able to find the exit by running your finger along the wall to count doors when you are evacuating. -- Never re-enter a burning building for any reason.

-- Practice your escape plan at least twice a year with all household members

``Every second counts during a fire,'' Drengenberg emphasizes. ``You should practice your home fire escape drill so that it becomes second nature. If a fire occurs your family will be prepared to react quickly and exit the home safely.''

About Underwriters Laboratories

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) is an independent, not-for-profit product safety certification organization that has been testing products for more than 110 years. UL tests more than 18,850 types of products annually, and more than 19 billion UL Marks appear on products each year. Worldwide, UL's family of companies and its network of service providers inclue 60 laboratories, and testing and certification facilities. More information is available at www.ul.com.