“Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out.” This is the official theme that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced for this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign. In using this theme, NFPA wanted to emphasize that homes and commercial buildings burn faster today due to the highly combustible material used to construct new homes and commercial buildings. Modern furnishings, along with open-space designs, also contribute to an increased rate at which fires burn.
Most Americans don’t know that you may have between one and two minutes to safely escape a fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Here are some home fire planning and safety tips to consider:
1. Have working smoke alarms in each bedroom. You also need one smoke alarm outside each sleeping area.
2. Install smoke alarms on every level of the home.
3. Mount smoke alarms in the basement.
4. It’s best to use interconnected smoke alarms (when one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound).
5. Test all smoke alarms at least once a month, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).
6. Replace your smoke alarm batteries at least once every two years, according to USFA.
7. Replace your smoke alarms at least once every 10 years, according to the USFA.
8. Each room in the home must have two exits, usually a door and a window.
9. Prepare a home escape plan and practice it with all household members, including children.
10. Practice home fire drill twice a year, preferably one at night and one during the day.
11. Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and not obstructed so it is easy for the fire department to find you.
12. Close doors behind you after you exit a burning home as this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
13. Once you get outside a burning building, never go back inside.
Rabih Hamawi is a principal at Law Office of Rabih Hamawi, P.C. and focuses his practice on representing policyholders in fire, property damage, and insurance-coverage disputes with insurers and in errors-and-omissions cases against insurance agents. He has extensive expertise in insurance coverage and is a licensed property and casualty, life, accident, and health insurance producer and counselor (LIC). He earned the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), and Certified Risk Manager (CRM) designations. His phone number is (248) 905-1133, and his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. www.hamawilaw.com.