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STOW — “If you have a fire at home you may have less than three minutes after the alarm sounds to get out safely. Knowing what to do can mean the difference between life and death,” says State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. The theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, Every Second Counts – Plan Two Ways Out!” reminds us of the importance of planning and practicing a home escape plan. Fire Prevention Week is October 8-14, 2017.
“Time and again, I’ve seen the life-saving impact of having a home escape plan, when firefighters arrive at a fire and see the family outside at their meeting place. Most fatal fires occur in the home, and I’ve seen the tragedy that can result when people don’t get out,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “That’s why we’re making a concerted effort to educate Massachusetts residents about the importance of planning and practicing a home escape plan that everyone knows.”
“Children practice fire drills in school at least four times each year. Families should also have home fire drills so they can practice their home escape plans,” said Ostroskey.
Protect Your Home and Family with Home Escape Planning
A home escape plan includes two ways out of every room, which could be a window or door, a route to exits and a meeting place outside and away from the house. A neighbor’s porch, a tree or a mailbox near the house would be good meeting places. In addition to a home escape plan, homes must have working smoke alarms. “When creating your family home escape plan, it would be a great time to check that all smoke alarms are less than ten years old, and are working,” Ostroskey said. “Most smoke alarms last about ten years, so it’s important to replace them when they expire.” When replacing battery-operated alarms, choose smoke alarms with a 10-year sealed battery and a hush button feature that never needs replacing until the entire alarm does. Smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and alkaline batteries should be replaced at least once a year or when the alarm begins to chirp, signaling the battery is running low.
How to Develop a Home Escape Plan
The Department of Fire Services offer these tips on creating a home escape plan:
Escape Plans not Just for Families
“Businesses should also review emergency plans and evacuation routes with employees during Fire Prevention Week,” reminds Ostroskey. “No matter where you are – at work or at play, you need to know what to do in case of fire, and you need to know how to get out of any building.” With so little time to leave a building in a fire, preparation and practice is the best way to remember the plan. “And once out, stay out,” explained Marshal Ostroskey. “Never go back into the home, or workplace even if it looks safe. Things can be replaced. You cannot be replaced.”
For additional information and a chart to use to create a home escape plan visit www.mass.gov/dfs and type in home escape plans in the search bar.