Fire departments’ top priority is educating people to develop an escape plan for a house fire.
A person might have as little as one to two minutes to escape a house fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds, according to an Ottawa Fire Department news release.
“Developing and practicing a home escape plan is like building muscle memory,” Capt. Dennis Nowatzke with the Ottawa Fire Department said. “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.”
Fire Prevention Week runs Oct. 8-14 and the theme for this year is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out?” The department suggests households develop a plan and practice together, the release said.
“Home escape planning is one of the most basic but fundamental elements of home fire safety, and can truly make the difference between life and death in a fire situation,” Lorraine Carli, the National Fire Protection Association’s vice president of outreach and advocacy.
NFPA and the Ottawa Fire Department offer tips for developing an escape plan:
• Draw a map of the home, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
• Practice a fire drill twice a year, one at night and one during the day. Practice using different paths out.
• Teach younger children how to escape on their own in case parents or older siblings can’t help them.
• Make sure the address is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
• Close doors to slow down the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
• Once outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.
Ottawa firefighters will visit elementary schools in October to teach fire and life safety behaviors to students. The department has 89 presentations scheduled and other groups are coming to the fire station for tours.
The department’s open house will be 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 14 at the station, 720 W. Second St., Ottawa. Tours will be available along with equipment demonstrations and fire safety tips.