Fire Prevention Week Oct.9 to 15: plan your escape

When a fire starts in your home, there is little time to get out safely. An escape plan is critical to keeping you and your loved ones safe.

That's why this year's theme for Fire Prevention Week is "Fire won't wait. Plan your escape."

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) oversees Fire Prevention Week.

NFPA is a global self-funded non-profit organization, established in 1896, "devoted to eliminating death, injury, property, and economic loss due to fire, electrical, and related hazards."

When the NFPA started Fire Prevention Week in 1922, wood furnishings and solid materials used for construction burned slower than the plastics, synthetics, and other lightweight products used today. Occupants had time to escape if alerted to smoke or fire.

"With the materials used to build homes today, fires are burning hotter and faster than ever before. You have less than two minutes to escape, meaning a working smoke alarm and a home escape plan are crucial in surviving a house fire and getting out safely," says Bill Snowball, Fire Chief of Whitchurch-Stouffville Fire and Emergency Services.

Whitchurch-Stouffville Fire and Emergency Services offer a home escape plan template to help you design an effective plan for you and your family and includes a list of important reminders.

"Sit down with everyone in your home, talk about your home escape plan, and put it into practice," adds Snowball.

He cited that 86 deaths in Ontario this year, from Jan. to Sept., have been due to fires. "In many cases, these fatalities could have been prevented with working smoke alarms and a home escape plan."

To prevent further deaths and create awareness during Fire Prevention Week, Whitchurch-Stouffville Fire and Emergency Services is challenging residents to "Plan a Record-Breaking Escape!" Photos or videos of practicing your home escape plan can be emailed to wsfes@townofws.ca or tagged @WSFES.

Visit Fire and Emergency Services - Whitchurch-Stouffville (townofws.ca) for information.

Jennifer McLaughlin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Stouffville Review