SEDONA AZ (October 3, 2012) – It’s 3:00 in the morning. You and your family are sound asleep and awaken to a beeping smoke alarm. You are tired and confused from the effects of the smoke. You know you need to get everyone to safety, but when you head for the front door, you find that escape route blocked by a rapidly spreading fire. What do you do?
While this scenario is one the Sedona Fire District hopes you never encounter, the statistics tell us that many people do every day. There is something you can do to ensure your family’s safety in the event of a house fire - it’s planning Two Ways Out!
“One home structure fire was reported every eighty-five seconds in 2010,” says SFD Fire Marshal Gary Johnson. “Fire is unpredictable and moves faster than most people realize. Having a tried and true escape plan with two ways out is essential to ensuring your family’s safety should fire break out in your home.”
Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8 but continued into and did most of its damage on October 9, 1871.
According to popular legend, the fire broke out after a cow – belonging to Mrs. Catherine O’Leary – kicked over a lamp, setting first the barn, then the whole city on fire. Chances are you’ve heard some version of this story yourself; people have been blaming the Great Chicago Fire on the cow and Mrs. O’Leary for more than 130 years. But recent research by Chicago historian Robert Cromie has helped to debunk this version of events.
While the Great Chicago Fire was the best-known blaze to start during that fiery two-day stretch, it wasn’t the biggest. That distinction goes to the Peshtigo Fire, the most devastating forest fire in American history. The Peshtigo Fire also occurred on October 8, 1871, roared through Northeast Wisconsin, burned down 16 towns, killed 1,152 people, and scorched 1.2 million acres before it ended.
SFD recommends the following tips for planning your family’s escape routes and include all family members, even children, in the planning 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’ve escaped. Draw a picture of your outside meeting place on your escape plan.
• Write 911 as the telephone number to call in the event of a fire.
• Have a grown-up sound the smoke alarm and practice your escape plan 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 that 911 is the emergency number to call in the event of a fire.
• Sound the smoke alarm and practice your escape drill with everyone living in your home.
• Practice your escape drill twice a year.
If you have questions concerning your fire safety plan, inspecting your smoke detector, or changing the batteries, call the Sedona Fire District at 928-282-6800. Begin your Two Ways Out! plan today.