Fire chiefs agree: Evacuation plans save lives
Wellington fire chief James Ryan knows that when a fire spreads quickly through a home, a safe fire escape plan can make all the difference.
This Fire Prevention Week - October 8 to 14 - Prince Edward Island fire chiefs are sharing their experiences to highlight this year’s important theme: “Every Second Counts, Plan 2 Ways Out” – and why all Islanders should have a home escape plan.
“Contrary to popular belief, a house on fire is not well-lit; often times, homes on fire quickly become completely dark due to the smoke,” Ryan said. “By practicing an exit plan, all family members will automatically know what to do, even in dark smoke. It’s especially important to practice regularly with your children, so they are familiar with their escape route and will be less likely to hide from fire in a closet or under a bed.”
Families should talk with children about home fire safety, how to evacuate, and select a safe meeting spot outside in case they have to evacuate. Also:
- sit together and draw a map of your home, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
- practice your home fire drill twice a year.
- conduct at least one fire drill at night, so children can practice getting to an exit in low light.
- practice using different ways out.
- teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
- teach children to evacuate to the safe meeting place first, and then call for help.
To protect themselves from being injured in a fire, all Islanders should:
- stay outside once you are outside – call 911 after you’ve evacuated, and never go back inside a burning building;
- close doors behind you as you leave – this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire; and make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
East River fire chief Rod MacDonald echoed this advice.
“I’ve responded to home fires in my community where every second counted when it comes to safely escaping and avoiding tragedy, including the early warning provided by a working smoke detector,” added Chief MacDonald. “Working smoke detectors save lives, so test the batteries regularly, change the batteries twice a year, and replace smoke detectors every 10 years.”