Citizens encouraged to make fire escape plans, check smoke alarms as Fire Prevention Week 2019 gets underway

National Fire Prevention Week will once again usher in a call for all residents to prepare for the unexpected. Staff with Columbia Richland Fire are encouraging everyone to live out the theme of this year’s week – ‘Not every hero wears a cape. Plan and practice your escape.’

“These words could not hit the point home more. If a major fire breaks out in your home EVERYONE should be equipped with the knowledge of what to do and how to escape safely,” said Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “All citizens should make fire escape planning a top priority with their families, especially if they have small children. Having that plan in place could wind up saving your life and the lives of the ones you love.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, which sets the theme for fire prevention week, only one of every three American households have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. Additionally, one-third of American households who made an estimate thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening. In reality the time available is often less.

Here are some key tips to get your fire escape planning started for your home or business:

  • Draw a map of your property. Show all doors and windows.
  • Visit each room. Find 2 ways out!
  • All windows and doors should open easily! You should be able to use them to get outside.
  • Make sure your home has smoke alarms. Push the test button to ensure the alarm is working.
  • Pick a meeting place outside for everyone to meet. It should be somewhere in front of your home or business.
  • Make sure your house or building number can be seen from the street.
  • Talk about your plan with everyone in your home! Make sure they know what to do!
  • Learn the emergency phone number for your fire department!
  • PRACTICE your home fire drill! Also – take time to practice it at night and practice using different ways to get out.
  • Commit to practicing your fire escape plan with your family at least twice a year!

You can find additional information on fire escape planning by visiting NFPA’s website here. A grid is also available for you to draw out a fire escape plan for your home.

In addition to having a fire escape plan area residents are also encouraged to check their smoke alarms. The NFPA reports that roughly 3 out of 5 fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

Working smoke alarms give you an early warning so you can escape a fire quickly!


  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom. They should also be outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Install alarms in the basement.
  • Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
  • It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
  • Current alarms on the market employ different types of technology including multi-sensing, which could include smoke and carbon monoxide combined.
  • Today’s smoke alarms will be more technologically advanced to respond to a multitude of fire conditions, yet mitigate false alarms.
  • A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove.
  • People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
  • Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old!