Part of the Plan is the Office of Emergency Management’s monthly video series where we open our public safety plans and partnerships. Something we value at OEM is informing and including the public as to your roles in our plans. As we say: You are the Public in Public Safety. This month, we look at our Mass Care and Shelter Plan,  specifically house fire prevention, preparation, and response with our partners at the  Philadelphia Fire Department.

October 20, 2017

National Fire Prevention Week is observed mid-October every year. For the Philadelphia Fire Department, fire prevention is preached year-round as part of their community outreach.

For October’s Part of the Plan video, the Office of Emergency Management attended a “live-house burn” with Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel.

The commissioner gave insight into the “science of fire”. One fact that stood out: Four decades ago, Americans had an average of 17 minutes to escape a house fire. Today, due to construction and home furnishing materials, that number is down to three minutes.

Another detail stressed was the importance of keeping your door closed when you sleep. Temperatures can reach 1000 degrees in a house fire. Closing your bedroom door makes a 900 degree difference and keeps toxic smoke out of your room. This allows extra time for you to escape or firefighters to rescue you. So, Close before you Doze!

Related: Philadelphia Fire Department gets nearly $1 million for traditional alarms for residents and adaptive smoke alarms for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or have low vision.

So, what can you do to help you and your family be safe? Consider the following steps to fire safety:

  • Create a Family Emergency Plan that includes the possibility of evacuation. Take the needs of all in your house into consideration, including your pets. Check in with neighbors that may need help.
  • If you need to evacuate, you will have to leave your home quickly. Decide now where you can go. You should decide what you will need to take with you in your Go Bag.
  • Fill out a health information form for anyone with medical conditions, special needs, or prescription medications.
  • Keep your important documents safe. If your paper files and personal computer are lost or damaged in a fire, flood, or other emergency, your personal information, bank statements, and insurance records could be destroyed.  Make copies of ID, social security cards, passports, banking, and insurance documents. Take photos and store digitally or put them in you Go Bag or water-proof Shelter-in-Place kit.
  • Make sure to practice your plan at home. Have fire drills, make sure you use different exits every time you practice. Practice getting to your emergency meeting places and make sure everyone knows how to get there.
  • Know the Fire Safety Rules and develop a Fire Escape Plan with help from the Philadelphia Fire Department.
  • Test your smoke alarm. Nationally, three of five fire deaths do not have a working smoke detector in the home. Don’t have one and can’t afford it? The Philadelphia Fire Department has one for free. Contact Philly 3-1-1.

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