TONICA — No one expects a fire to break out in their home, but in those unfortunate cases every second counts. In the chaos of a burning home, it’s important for each family member to know what to do, so everyone escapes to safety.
The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) annual Fire Safety Week is scheduled for Oct. 8 to 14 and this year’s theme is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!”
Rick Turri, public information officer with the Tonica Volunteer Fire Department, was recently asked to share some advice to help local families be prepared in the event of a house fire.
Turri said while fire will quickly grow, the smoke and heat it creates moves even faster. He recommended practicing EDITH (Exit Drills In The Home) before they’re needed.
“If you’re awakened from your sleep by a fire, everyone must make their next action a quick and correct action. It’s not the time to think about details, it’s time to react and get out,” Turri said.
He stressed the importance of an early warning. Having fire and carbon monoxide detectors located throughout the home are critical as early warning devices and their batteries should be changed at least annually.
“(Changing the batteries) on your birthday would be a good present to yourself. The safety of your family is a priceless present,” he said.
Sitting down with your family to create an emergency exit plan is a crucial part of family safety. It’s also important to practice the strategy with children and elder residents and involve them in the planning. Safety is important to everyone, especially during an emergency.
“It’s better to know what to do before it’s needed than to not have a plan when it is needed. Have two ways out and close the door,” Turri said.
The NFPA advises families to draw a map of their home, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit. It’s also beneficial to practice your home fire drill twice a year. One should be conducted at night and one should occur during the day and each exit route should be practiced. Children should also be taught how to escape on their own in case no one is there to assist them.
Additionally, ensure your house number is clearly marked and visible for the fire department as they respond. As family members leave the home they should be mindful to close any doors as they exit. Closing doors will help restrict oxygen to the fire and this may slow the spread of the deadly combination of fire, smoke and heat. Once outside, it’s imperative family members stay outside and never go back inside the burning home.