Nearly every week or month of the year is designated for some group or cause, but Mount Airy’s fire chief said the message behind an observance now under way could save lives.
“Have Two Ways Out” is the theme of National Fire Prevention Week, which began Sunday and will continue through Saturday.
In participating in the annual observance, Chief Zane Poindexter said the Mount Airy Fire Department is emphasizing the need for local residents to adopt a plan for survival. This involves designating multiple escape routes, in case smoke or flames are blocking primary exits.
While that would seem to be a matter of common sense, Poindexter said the “Have Two Ways Out” slogan has taken on special significance due to the way homes are constructed and furnished today. Both reflect a lesser quality and stability than in years past, he said.
“The construction of homes and furniture has changed so much, that in 30 seconds a fire can be out of control,” Poindexter said. Now everything burns much quicker, he added, which makes decisions by those inside all the more critical.
Even if there is a working smoke alarm and the family is prepared to react to a fire, it is advisable to have two exits — not just for a house but each room if possible, in case doorways are blocked.
Experts advise preparing a diagram of the home and marking doors and windows, along with making sure they open easily from inside.
Children should be taught to touch doors before opening them if they are reacting to a fire alarm, since one that is hot can indicate the exit is blocked by flames and the other should be used.
If smoke is encountered, those in a burning structure should crawl on the floor while escaping to better protect themselves from inhalation, one of the leading causes of fire-related deaths.
Plans also should include assisting members of the household who might have trouble escaping on their own, such as young children or the elderly.
Experts further suggest having a meeting place outside to account for everyone inside.