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Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office says be prepared, Home Escape Plans Saves Lives

Tennessee State Fire MarshalNashville, TN – If you woke up to a fire in your home, how much time do you think you would have to get to safety? According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), one-third of American households estimated that it would take at least six minutes before a fire in their home would become life-threatening. Unfortunately, the time available is often much less.

“Fire is unpredictable and moves faster than most people realize,” State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak says. “Having a tried and true escape plan with two ways out is essential for ensuring your family’s safety in the event of a fire.”

In preparation for the Tennessee Fire Prevention Week kick-off on October 4th, the State Fire Marshal’s Office is joining the Oak Ridge Fire Department to promote the importance of home fire escape plans. On September 26th, the Oak Ridge Fire Department launched, “Be Prepared: Home escape plans save lives,” a public service announcement directed at families across Tennessee.

“The story this PSA tells is incredibly important for Tennesseans to hear. Our state has a fire mortality problem and the more we talk about fire safety and fire prevention, the closer we get to tackling that problem,” says Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary West.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office also offers the following tips for making your own home fire escape plan:

Plan Your Escape

  • Draw a floor-plan of your home, marking two ways out of every room.
  • Agree on an outside meeting place (something permanent, like a tree, light pole, or mailbox) a safe distance from the home where everyone should gather in an emergency.
  • Practice your home fire drill at night and during the day with everyone in your home, twice a year. Practice using different ways out.

Be Prepared

  • Install smoke alarms inside and outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home.
  • Test your smoke alarms monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years.
  • Ensure everyone in the household knows the sound of the smoke alarm and what it signifies.
    Ensure everyone in the household can unlock and open all doors and windows, even in the dark.
  • If a room has a window air conditioner, make sure there is still a second way out of the room. Windows with security bars, grills, and window guards should have emergency release devices. Make sure you can operate these.
  • Children, older adults, and people with disabilities may need assistance to wake up and get out. Make sure that someone will help them.
  • Teach your children how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them.

Get Out

  • If the smoke alarm sounds or fire is discovered in your home, get out fast.
  • Doors need to be tested before opening them. Use the back of your hand to see if the door is warm. If it is, use another escape route.
  • If you have to escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your way out.
  • If you are trapped, close all doors between you and the fire. Stuff the cracks around the doors with clothes or towels to keep out smoke. Call the fire department, wait at a window and signal for help with a light-colored cloth or a flashlight.

Stay Out

  • Once you are out, stay out. Don’t go back inside for any reason.
  • Call the fire department from your safe meeting place.
  • If people or pets are trapped, notify the fire department and let them handle the rescue efforts.

About the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is a division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


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