JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This week is Fire Prevention Week, which was created by the National Fire Protection Association in 1922 and highlights the ways people can protect themselves from fire.
This year's theme is "Plan and Practice Your Escape."
The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department offered a few ways families can stay prepared and plan an escape route:
- Have a family meeting to discuss what to do if a fire breaks out in your home.
- Plan two ways out of every room and make sure every member of the family knows the routes and can get out fast.
- Check your windows to see if they operate properly.
- Choose a safe meeting place outside the house where everyone knows to meet in a fire emergency.
- Have the whole family practice the escape plan at least twice a year.
- Once you are out of the house, stay out.
Fire officials said being prepared is essential because minutes can be the difference between life and death.
"The national average is about 2 minutes after the smoke detector goes off -- that's about all the time you have to get out your home," JFRD Interim Fire Chief Keith Powers said Monday. "It's very important that you preplan these things have them ready to go so that when it happens you're not waiting valuable time trying to figure out what to do."
According to JFRD, it's also important to install a smoke detector on each level of your home, test them once a month and change the batteries when you change your clocks to or from daylight saving time.
"Twice a year when the time changes -- it's very important. There's a button on all smoke detectors. Mash this button and you test it, make sure you hear the audible alarm and then once you do that, you can take the smoke detector down just by twisting it and you change the 9-volt battery out in the back of it and put a brand new one in," Powers said during a demostration. "You do that every six months to ensure that your smoke detector is working."
More fire safety tips can be found on MyJFRD.com.
Additionally, JFRD will provide and install a free smoke detector for qualifying Jacksonville residents living in single-family or two-family homes. The department also will install replacement batteries in existing smoke detectors at no charge.
For a free smoke detector or to arrange to have the batteries in an existing device replaced, call 904-630-CITY (2489). Click here to find more information about the smoke detector program.
Businesses, organizations or people who want to help prevent residential fire deaths through increased use of smoke detectors can contribute to the Mayor's Home Fire Safety Program. Call 904-630-0445 for more information.