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Fire Officials: 'Have Two Ways Out'

The announcement is made as Fire Prevention Week kicks off.

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 nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), one-third of Americans households estimate they thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening. Unfortunately, the time available is often less. 

That’s why Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services (GCFES) is teaming up with NFPA during Fire Prevention Week, October 7-13, 2012 and throughout the month of October, to urge residents to “Have Two Ways Out!” This year’s theme focuses on the importance of fire escape planning and practice.

In 2010, U.S. fire departments responded to 369,500 home structure fires. These fires caused 13,350 civilian injuries, 2,640 civilian deaths, and $6.9 billion in direct damage. In 2011, The Gwinnett County Fire department responded to almost 1,700 structure fires where of the 203 working incidents, there were seven civilian deaths.

“One home structure fire was reported in the United states every 85 seconds in 2010,” says Lieutenant Colin Rhoden of Gwinnett County Fire Department. “Fire is unpredictable and moves faster than most people realize.  Having a tried and true escape plan with two ways out is essential to ensuring your family’s safety should fire break out in your home.” 

GCFES 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.
  • Choose a meeting place outside in front of your home. This is where everyone can meet once they’ve escaped. Draw a picture of your outside meeting place on your escape plan.
  • Write the emergency telephone number for the fire department on your escape plan.
  • Have a grown-up sound the smoke alarm and practice your escape plan with everyone living in your home.
  • Keep your escape plan on the refrigerator and remind grown-ups to have your family practice the plan twice a year or whenever anyone in your home celebrates a birthday.

The Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services will be hosting activities including partnering with Gwinnett Police Department at the Public Safety Fall Festival at Coolray field, the home of the Gwinnett Braves on October 6, 2012. During Fire Prevention Week to promote “Have Two Ways Out,” one of the many ways to take part is in this year’s Poster and Essay Contest.  Another way to participate is during the Statewide Fire Drill. The drill is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 10:00 A.M. with a make-up date on Wednesday, October 17, 2012. Through these educational, family-oriented activities, residents can learn more about the importance of fire escape planning and practice, as well as the power of prevention.

To find out more about Fire Prevention Week programs and activities in Gwinnett County, please contact the Gwinnett County Fire Department at 678.518.4850 or email the Education Section at fireprograms@gwinnettcounty.com. To learn more about “Have Two Ways Out!” visit NFPA’s Web site at www.firepreventionweek.org.

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