The St. Louis Fire Department is joining the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and other safety advocates this fall to remind children and adults about fire safety during Fire Prevention Week. This year's theme, "Have Two Ways Out!" highlights the importance of fire escape planning and practice. The St. Louis Fire Department will actually recognize the entire month of October for fire safety and will be active in schools, churches, and the community in general, spreading fire safety messages.
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 NFPA, one-third of American households who were surveyed thought they would have at least six minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening. Unfortunately, the time available is often less. Fires can spread through a home rapidly.
The St. Louis Fire Department encourages residents to develop and practice a home escape plan and recommends the following tips for planning your family's escape:
- Make a map of your home. Mark a door and a window that can be used to get out of every room. "Have Two Ways Out!"
- Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily.
- Practice using different ways out in the day and at night.
- Choose a meeting place outside in front of your home. This is where everyone can meet once they've escaped.
- Write the emergency telephone number for the fire department on your escape plan.
- Keep your escape plan on the refrigerator and practice the plan twice a year or whenever anyone in your home celebrates a birthday.
Key Smoke Alarm Installation and Maintenance Tips
- Install at least one smoke alarm on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area.
- Mount smoke alarms on ceilings or high on the walls, following manufacturer's instructions.
- Test smoke alarms once a month, following manufacturer's instructions.
- Replace batteries once a year or as soon as the device "chirps," indicating that the battery is low.
- Replace all smoke alarms after 10 years, even those that are hard-wired or smoke alarms with "long-life" (10-year) batteries. Smoke alarms with "long-life" batteries also need to be replaced when the alarm "chirps" or fails to respond to periodic testing. The batteries in these units cannot be replaced.
- Alarms that are hard-wired to the home's electrical system should be installed by a qualified electrician.
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