5 On Your Side

Plan and practice to escape a house fire

Posted October 8, 2019 5:23 p.m. EDT
Updated October 8, 2019 9:31 p.m. EDT

Get out of your burning home, alive! That's the message fire fighters are spreading for Fire Safety Week 2019.

Do you have a plan, an actual escape plan?

5 On Your Side's Monica Laliberte talked strategy with Kevin Hubbard, Emergency Services Director in Johnston County.

"You need to have an exit plan to get out of every room, some rooms may be easier than others," Hubbard said.

First floors have options. The second floor is more difficult.

"If you're on a second floor and the fire is on the first floor, and you can't get down the stairwell, how do you get out?" Hubbard asked. "Do you have a window that you can open and step out onto a good ledge and wait for somebody to help you down. Do you have a ladder, a fire escape ladder in the room that you can lace over the window sill and climb down? And, if you have those things, are your children or your family comfortable with doing that?"

Hubbard also addressed concerns with older adults, saying they may not be able to get down a ladder.

"Do they have the option of not sleeping on the second floor? Can we sleep on the first floor?" asked Hubbard.

And he says it's important to practice, even the escape with the ladder.

"Absolutely," Hubbard said. "Because the option is possibly death."

Escape plans are so critical because of time. Forty years ago, Hubbard said, we had about 17 minutes to escape a fire. Because of synthetic materials, furniture and construction, escape time is now estimated at just three minutes.

"The average person who's never experienced a fire may not really appreciate the differences that these little things can make," he said.

Little things like making sure your smoke detectors work.

"We have been to house fires before where people said, `Man, I wish I had a working smoke detector,' or you know, 'I wish I had not plugged in so many different things to this single outlet,'" Hubbard said.

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