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While fire can provide warmth and safety, it also can cause immediate and significant damage that can uproot lives and devastate homes. Because fire is such a formidable foe, it's imperative that people from all walks of life have a fire safety plan.
The National Fire Protection Association says U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 358,500 home structure fires per year between 2011 and 2015. On average, seven people die in U.S. home fires per day. The Ontario Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services says 48 percent of fires that cause severe losses occur in residential properties. Both the NFPA and the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management in Ontario state that cooking-related fires are the most prevalent, followed by fires sparked by heating equipment.
How quickly fire can spread may surprise some people. The Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department says that in the average two-story home fire, fire ignites in 30 seconds, smoke pours into most rooms by 2.5 minutes, and roughly 4.5 minutes after the fire has ignited, flames can be visible from the exterior of a house. Temperatures inside can grow from 190 F to more than 1400 F in two minutes.
When fires ignite, time is of the essence to make a fast evacuation. Unfortunately, panic may set in and people may not know how to act when under such acute stress. That's why planning for the event of fire can provide families with the information they need to evacuate safely. Evacuation plans and drills should be established and practiced frequently so that getting out alive becomes second nature. However, only about one-quarter of households have actually developed and practiced a home-fire escape plan, according to the NFPA.
The following guidelines can help families customize their fire escape plans.