|“Get Out, Stay Out”|
|By Vice President / Lieutenant Scot Best|
|March 6, 2023|
Home is the place people feel safest from fire, but it is actually the place they are at greatest risk. Approximately 80% of all U.S. fire deaths occur in the home; an average of seven people die in home fires every day.
According to National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) latest reports, home fires and home fire deaths declined by about 50% since 1980. However, the 7.8 deaths per 1,000 reported home fires reflects a 10% increase over the 7.1 rate in 1980. In other words, while the number of U.S. home fires and home fire deaths has significantly declined over the past few decades, the death rate per 1,000 reported fires is actually a little higher. These numbers show that while we have made strong progress in preventing fires, mitigating their effects when they do happen remains a challenge.
Today’s homes burn faster than ever. Experts say you may have a little as two minutes (or even less) to safely escape a typical home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Modern home furnishings, along with the fact that newer homes tend to be built with more open spaces and unprotected lightweight wood construction, all contribute to the increased rate at which home fires burn.
The safest option for anyone inside their home that is on fire is to get out immediately and call 911. It is also very important to stay out once you get out. Too many times, responding fire departments have seen injury or death occur because the resident re-entered a building that was on fire, either in attempt to rescue another person, a pet, or to recover personal items.
Everyone should know how to escape from a burning home. The Ridge VFD recommends leaving fighting a fire to trained firefighters. Instead, efforts should be focused on escaping.
Smoke is very dangerous. It blocks vision, and the poisonous gases can cause dizziness, disorientation and ultimately death. These conditions can result in becoming lost or trapped in a home. Because many people die trying to escape from a fire, everyone should practice a home escape plan.
Put working smoke alarms on every level of the home, as well as inside and outside of sleeping areas. Everyone should create a home escape plan and know two safe ways out of each room. Draw a map of each level of your home showing all doors and windows. Establish a family meeting place outside the home. In addition, because young children, older adults and individuals with disabilities may need help getting out of the home, the plan should include who will assist them in a fire. Practice the plan with everyone in the home at least two times a year.
If you are caught in a home fire situation, survival should be your top priority. You should:
React to the smoke alarm:
Feel the door handle:
Don't look for other people or gather up your stuff:
Crawl low to the floor:
Close the door behind you:
If you can't get out, get someone's attention: