October 11, 2003
Think First team recommends fire escape plan
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—It’s the middle of the night and your smoke alarm is blaring: What do you do?
Lauren Fairburn hopes your answer is: Get out of the house and stay out.
As coordinator of Think First, Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s statewide injury-prevention program, Fairburn works with local firefighters to educate families about the importance of creating a home fire escape plan.
“We want children to know how to prevent fires and what to do when the fire alarm sounds,” Fairburn said. “According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 389,000 reported home fires in the United States in 2002 and 2,670 people died, yet only 25 percent of people have created and practiced a home fire escape plan.”
“Fire grows so fast that frequently practicing a fire escape plan can save your life,” said Jackie Moore, fire safety educator for the Jackson Fire Department. “We recommend getting out immediately and not trying to investigate the reason for the alarm.”
Cooking is the leading cause of house fires in the United States and results in the most injuries, while smoking is the cause of most fire deaths. Smoke alarms are the most effective early warning device available and reduce the amount of deaths from a fire by 50 percent.
The Think First team recommends the following tips, provided by the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Prevention Week Web site, (firepreventionweek.org).
- Install smoke alarms on every level of the house and near sleeping areas.
- Test smoke alarms once a month and change batteries once a year.
- Establish and practice a house fire escape plan at least twice a year.
- Know two ways out of every room.
- Have a meeting place outside their home.
- Crawl low under smoke and close all doors as you exit them to help slow the spread of fire and smoke.
- Stop, drop, and roll if your clothes catch fire.
- Always turn off portable space heaters and place them away from anything that can ignite.
- Never allow candles to burn in a child’s room and keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
Think First is aimed at young children and teenagers and tries to prevent spinal cord, brain and other traumatic injuries by focusing on fire, bicycle, automobile, firearm, boat, swimming and diving safety. For more information about Think First, Sammy Safety or to set up a Think First event at a Mississippi school, call Lauren Fairburn at 601-364-3451.