It’s National Fire Prevention Week. And Florida fire officials are reminding people to make a plan for how they’d escape a fire in or around their homes.
On Tuesday, the Florida cabinet passed a resolution recognizing Fire Prevention Week in the state. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who also serves as the State Fire Marshall, says, in Florida, fires destroy homes and lives every day.
“Last year, there were 69,000 fires, and we lost 136 lives. Fire is a serious public safety concern both locally and nationally," he said.
Atwater says, having a plan for escape can mean the difference between life and death.
And Mike Bellamy, with the Tallahassee Fire Department, says that plan should include not one but two escape routes from every room. Bellamy says, that’s called being “rabbit ready.”
“All rabbits have two ways out when they burrow and make their homes underground," he said. "And this was a creative way that we can apply this same theory to escaping our homes in the case of a fire. So maybe, the front door and the back door. Or maybe a window in the front of the house and a door in the back.”
Bellamy says, people should practice their escape routes with their families, especially if they have young children. He says, when having a family fire drill, people should crawl on their stomachs to simulate what they’d do if there was smoke in the hallway. And, he says, be sure to change the batteries in smoke detectors at least twice a year.
House fires aren’t the only danger to prepare for, though. On Tuesday, Director of the Florida Forest Service, Jim Karels, said, drier weather can mean more wildfires.
“Same thing from the wildfire perspective, for prevention and planning, is to have two ways out. It’s interesting, but it’s not just out of your home but out of your neighborhood. If you’re cut off one way, you’ve got to have another way out," he said.
Fire fighters also remind people to make sure no tree branches or other debris are touching their houses, because they can be a path for forest fires to travel into a home.
The Tallahassee Fire Department invites the public to its Fire Prevention Celebration this Saturday, Oct. 13. It’s in the Wal-Mart parking lot at the corner of Mahan Drive and Buck Lake Road. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., they’ll have free food, and Sparky the Fire Dog will be there too.