Consider this scenario: It’s 6 p.m. Your father is reheating some soup on the stove when he hears his phone ring in the living room. It’s just another telemarketer, but he leaves the stovetop unattended for just long enough. Now the smoke alarm is sounding and the smell of smoke is filling his house. Would he know what to do? If he doesn’t have a plan in place, it could jeopardize his safety or even prove deadly.
Unattended cooking ranges are the No. 1 cause of home fires in the U.S. In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. That’s why senior fire safety and home escape planning are so critical in a fire situation. It ensures that everyone in the household knows how to use that small window of time wisely.
Plan Two Ways Out
Developing and practicing a home escape plan is like building muscle memory. That pre-planning is what everyone will draw upon to snap into action and escape as quickly as possible in the event of a fire. A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom and near all sleeping areas. It also includes two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place (such as a tree, light pole or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home.
The National Fire Protection Association offers these tips and recommendations for developing and practicing a home escape plan:
- Draw a map of your home with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
- Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.
- Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
- Close doors behind you as you leave — this may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.
- Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.
Senior Fire Safety
In addition to developing a home escape plan and practicing it, senior fire safety devices can protect the ones you love. Every four and a half minutes a range fire ignites, causing more than 5,000 injuries per year and costing hundreds of millions in damage.
Made and designed by firefighters, FireAvert helps prevent you from being another statistic. A maintenance-free auto stove shut-off device with a 25-year lifespan, FireAvert prevents stove fires by turning off the stove and oven when it hears a smoke detector. There is always smoke before a fire, which is why FireAvert is activated by the smoke alarm, cutting the power to the stove and oven before there is a flame.
A stovetop fire protection device, CookStop helps prevent the possibility of dangerous, unattended cooking fires. Using a computer-controlled, motion-sense technology to determine someone’s presence in the kitchen, CookStop begins a countdown when you leave the cooking area and will turn the power off to the stove if you don’t return to the cooking area within the countdown period.
To learn more about this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out” and home escape planning, visit firepreventionweek.org.