Plumas fire chiefs encourage residents to ‘Look. Listen. Learn.’

Today’s home fires burn faster than ever. Knowing how to escape in time takes planning and practice. In a typical home fire, you might only have one to two minutes to escape safely once the smoke alarm sounds.

The Plumas County Office of Emergency Services and Plumas County fire departments are teaming up with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to promote this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign: “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.” The campaign is intended to educate the public about basic, but essential ways to quickly and safely escape a home fire.

“Working in the fire service for many years, we know that people often make choices in fire situations that jeopardize their safety or even cost them their lives,” said Ed Ward of the Graeagle Fire Protection District Department and chair of the Plumas County Fire Chiefs Association. “Life-saving escape planning and practice saves lives.”

Ward says this year’s “Look. Listen. Learn.” campaign highlights three steps people can take to help quickly and safely escape a fire:

– Look for places fire could start.

– Listen for the sound of the smoke alarm.

– Learn two ways out of every room.

While NFPA and fire departments throughout Plumas County are focusing on home fires, these fire safety messages apply to virtually anywhere.

“Situational awareness is a skill people need to use wherever they go,” said Ward. “No matter where you are, look for available exits. If the alarm system sounds, take it seriously and exit the building immediately.”

NFPA statistics show that the number of U.S. home fires has been steadily declining over the past few decades. However, the death rate per 1,000 home fires that are reported to fire departments was 10 percent higher in 2016 than in 1980.

These numbers show that while significant progress has been made in teaching people how to prevent fires from happening, there’s still much more work to be done to educate the public in how to protect themselves in the event of a fire. It is so critical, given the speed at which today’s home fires grow and spread.

People feel safest in their home, but it is also the place people are at greatest risk from fire. Four out of five U.S. fire deaths occur at home and this is why home escape planning and practice is so important.

For more information about Fire Prevention Week and home escape planning, visit firepreventionweek.org .

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