“Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.”
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has proclaimed Oct. 9 through 15 as Fire Prevention Week in Illinois to encourage residents to review their fire escape plans and ensure the plan considers all the needs of everyone in the home.
The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is taking part in the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week. This year’s FPW campaign, “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape,” works to educate everyone about simple but important actions they can take to keep themselves and those around them safe from home fires.
“It’s important for everyone to have a home fire escape plan and practice that plan. Everyone needs to be prepared in advance, so that they know what to do when the smoke alarm sounds. Every home fire escape plan will be unique, as all homes are different,” said Acting Illinois State Fire Marshal Dale Simpson. “Have a plan for everyone in the home. Children, older adults, and people with disabilities may need assistance to wake up and get out. Make sure that someone will help them and plan for their needs.”
The OSFM wants to share these key home fire escape planning tips:
- Make sure your plan meets the needs of all your family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities.
- Smoke alarms should be installed inside every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of your home.
- Smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound.
- Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows open easily.
- Have an outside meeting place a safe distance from your home where everyone should meet.
- Practice your home fire drill at least twice a year with everyone in the household, including guests. Practice at least once during the day and at night.
The “Be Alarmed” program was founded in 2018 and is a partnership between the OSFM and the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance. The program was developed to educate Illinois residents on the dangers of residential fires and how to prevent them from occurring in the home, as well as ensuring there are properly installed, working smoke alarms in homes. Providing 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms ensures the power source cannot be removed from the unit and, if properly maintained, will last the life of the device.
In 2021, of the 217 Illinois Fire Departments participating in the program to provide and install the new 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms for Illinois residents, it was found that 80% of pre-existing smoke alarms in these homes were non-functional or expired. Modern homes burn faster due to the use of synthetic construction materials, which has drastically reduced escape times to 2 minutes or less. That is why having working smoke alarms in the home is so important.
For more general information about Fire Prevention Week and fire prevention in general, visit www.fpw.org.