Fire Prevention Week classes stress safety, preparation

RIVERDALE — Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services is teaming up with National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) during Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 7-13, 2012, to urge residents to “Have Two Ways Out!”

Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services will be conducting fire-safety education classes for students in their local schools throughout the week and for seniors at the Frank Bailey Senior Center on Riverdale Road on Oct. 11, at 10 a.m.

Fire officials want residents to know they do not have much time to leave a burning building.

According to the non-profit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), one-third of Americans households estimate they thought they would have at least six minutes before a fire in their home would become life-threatening.

Unfortunately, the time available is often less, officials said.

“It’s 3 a.m., you and your family are sound asleep and awake to the beeping smoke alarm,” said Clayton County Fire Chief/EMA Director Jeff Hood. “You are tired and confused from the effects of the smoke. You know you need to get to safety, but when you head for the front door, you find that escape route is blocked by fire that is spreading by the second. What do you do?”

Hood said NFPA statistics state that one home structure fire was reported every 85 seconds in 2010.

“That added up to 369,500 home-structure fires, which caused 13,350 injuries and 2,640 deaths,” Hood explained. “We also know that most fatal fires kill one or two people.”

This year’s theme, “Have Two Ways Out!” focuses on the importance of fire escape planning and practice, said the fire chief.

Officials cite stats that say only one-third of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. Of the three-quarters of Americans who do have an escape plan, less than half actually practiced it.

“Fire is unpredictable,” Hood said. “Seconds and minutes can mean the difference between life and death. We want to ensure that Clayton County residents know what to do if a fire breaks out in their home. Preparation is an important part of being able to deal with an emergency and it is crucial you take steps to prepare your family for the potential of a home fire by having an escape plan and practicing it.”

Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services recommended the following tips for planning the family’s escape:

If you have children and want to make this a family activity:

Make a map of your home. Mark a door and a window that can be used to get out of every room.

Choose a meeting place outside in front of your home. This is where everyone can meet once they have escaped. Draw a picture of your outside meeting place on your escape plan.

Write the emergency telephone number for the fire department on your escape plan.

Sound the smoke alarm and practice your escape drill with everyone living in your home.

Keep your escape plan on the refrigerator and practice the drill twice a year or whenever anyone in your home celebrates a birthday.

If your family is all adults:

Walk through you home and identify two ways out of each room.

Choose a meeting place outside in front of your home. This is where everyone can meet once they’ve escaped.

Make sure everyone knows the emergency number for your local fire department.

Practice your escape drill twice a year.