The theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week, which began on Sunday and continues through this coming Saturday, is the importance of fire escape planning and practice, urging everyone to “Have 2 Ways Out.”
Have you ever had that moment in a crowded auditorium, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, and wondered how you would escape in a fire? An earthquake? During a medical emergency? Did you begin to look for exits and mentally plan your escape, family in tow?
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, only one-third of Americans have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. Planning for two ways out of every room in your home and your workplace improves the safety of your family and coworkers. Once a smoke alarm sounds, you have only minutes to safely evacuate a burning building. Advanced planning increases your chances of a safe way out in any emergency, especially when some exits may be blocked by heavy smoke, fire, or other obstacles.
Having two ways out is important in any emergency situation. People in high risk occupations promote situational awareness - being aware of your surroundings, analyzing the scene, and making appropriate decisions from your observations. For firefighters, situational awareness means sizing up the fire and making appropriate decisions regarding fire attack and crew safety. In aviation, situational awareness means monitoring the weather and making adjustments to the flight plan. Back in that crowded auditorium, good situational awareness would mean knowing the locations of the exits and positioning yourself close to them for immediate escape in any emergency.
It’s been shown that good situational awareness can prevent many accidents. Always knowing two ways out can increase your chances of survival in a fire or other emergency situation. Most people think that tragedy cannot happen to them. Whether you’re at home, in your workplace, a sports complex, concert venue, hotel, or any location where an emergency can happen, maintain your situational awareness and plan two ways out.
From a potential earthquake to a bomb scare, NPS structural fire program employees share their "Ever Had That Moment?" stories during Fire Prevention Week:
Look around you right now. Do you see two exits?