State Fire Commissioner provides fire prevention tips as Fire incidents spike

Acting State Fire Commissioner Charles McGarvey is urging Pennsylvanians to take part in this year’s Fire Prevention Week and review important fire safety information.

Today’s homes are filled with synthetic materials that burn hotter and faster than ever. In a typical fire, you may have as little as two minutes to safely exit the structure from the time you first hear a smoke alarm. Knowing how to use that time wisely is critical, and it takes both planning and practice.

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This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme, “fire won’t wait, plan your escape” works to educate everyone about the importance of fire escape planning. Knowing what to do, and where to go when a smoke alarm sounds will keep you and your family safe.

“Confusion and inaction can be fatal during the critical first few seconds after people hear a smoke alarm or smell smoke,” McGarvey said at an event in Greensburg, PA. “Planning your escape and practicing that plan in advance are absolutely vital to protecting your safety.”

A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. It also includes two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place that’s a safe distance from the home.

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Safety Tips

Draw a map of your home with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.

Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.

Teach children how to escape on their own in case adults are not able to help them.

Make sure your house number is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.

Close doors behind you as you leave — this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.

Never go back inside a burning building. Once outside, stay outside.

The latest fire loss report from the National Fire Protection Association shows the largest number of home fire deaths since 2007, a 14-year high. Additional data shows that 75% of all U.S. fire deaths occur in homes; Pennsylvania routinely ranks among the states with the highest number of fatalities.

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