BOSTON – Practicing a fire escape drill can mean the difference between life and tragedy, especially when it only takes a few minutes for a flame to engulf a house. Alarmingly, only 28 percent of families with children under the age of 12 have conducted a home fire drill, according to the 2011 Liberty Mutual Insurance Fire Safety Study. The study also found that more than a third of parents (38 percent) have never created or discussed a fire escape plan with their family.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), seven people on average died every day in U.S. home fires in 2009. So why don’t parents prepare for such a disaster? The Liberty Mutual study of 500 parents spotlights several reasons, the most common being that 61 percent of parents who haven’t developed a family escape plan say it simply hasn’t occurred to them to do so. More specific reasons were that parents feel their children are not old enough to understand (26 percent) a fire safety plan, while 20 percent say they don’t know how to create one.
To help families address the need to better prepare for safe escape in the event of a home fire Liberty Mutual Insurance is again presenting “National Family Fire Drill Day” on October 1, 2011, in advance of the upcoming Fire Prevention Week (October 9-15).
“Discussing the reality of home fires can sometimes be difficult for parents, but it’s critical that every member of a family knows what do in the event of a fire and, according to the NFPA, children can start understanding fire safety messages as young as 18-24 months of age,” said Tom Harned, a property risk field manager with Liberty Mutual Insurance and volunteer firefighter. “Any day is a good day to create a fire escape plan, but National Family Fire Drill Day is a perfect moment in time to make fire safety in the home a priority.”
The one-stop, online fire safety destination BeFireSmart.com has detailed tools to help parents create a fire plan specific to their home. The site also includes a host of valuable tips to help eliminate fire hazards in the home, as well as a children’s section with fast, fun interactive games and a downloadable coloring book and story that teaches children the important lesson of never hiding from a firefighter during a fire.
BeFireSmart.com offers these tips for crafting a fire escape plan:
- Assemble your family and draw out your floor plan to create a fire escape plan, pointing out all possible exits and marking the location of each smoke alarm
- Once you have laid out your plan and the whole family understands where to exit, check that all escape routes are clear and that doors and windows are easily opened
- Choose an outside meeting place a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they’ve escaped, and then call the fire department
- Assign a family member to assist young children, and elderly or disabled family members should an emergency strike
- Never go back into a burning building; instead, rely on firefighters who have specialized training and equipment
- Practice the escape plan as a family during the day and night to make the drill as realistic as
- Make sure that smoke alarms are installed on each level of the home and in every sleeping room
- Store escape ladders upstairs for those homes with multiple levels
- Practice closing doors on your way out when holding a family fire drill, as this slows the spread of fire
A Pledge to Fire Safety Could Earn Your Fire Department $10,000
A commitment to home fire safety also can be a great reward to a community. Liberty Mutual again is presenting the Be Fire Smart Fire Safety Pledge Program, which awards ten $10,000 grants to the fire departments in communities that have the most residents complete the “Burning Questions” quiz at BeFireSmart.com now through October 31, 2011.
Last fall, tens of thousands of Americans took the online Be Fire Smart pledge. Fire departments in Richmond, Va., Tampa, Fla., College Park, Md., Hutto, Texas, Midwest City, Okla., Mooresville, N.C., Whitman, Mass., Wilmington, Mass., Merrimac, Mass., and Tittabawassee Township, Mich., each earned $10,000 from Liberty Mutual Insurance toward their local fire prevention initiatives.
About the Study
Liberty Mutual commissioned ORC International to conduct a survey among parents to examine fire safety and preparedness. The survey was conducted April 7-9, 2011, among 500 parents ages 35-50 with children under 12 in the household.
About Liberty Mutual Insurance
“Helping people live safer, more secure lives” since 1912, Boston-based Liberty Mutual Group is a diversified global insurer and the third largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on A.M. Best Company’s report of 2010 net written premium. The Group also ranks 82nd on the Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. corporations, based on 2010 revenue. The company has over 45,000 employees located in more than 900 offices throughout the world.
The eighth-largest auto and home insurer in the U.S., Liberty Mutual Insurance (libertymutual.com) sells full lines of coverage for automobile, homeowners, valuable possessions, personal liability, and individual life insurance. The company is an industry leader in affinity partnerships, offering car and home insurance to employees and members of more than 13,000 companies, credit unions, professional associations and alumni groups.