January 7, 2005 – Only one in four Americans has devised and practiced a plan to escape from the home during a fire, a survey by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has found.
Such preparation can be a critical factor in surviving a fire, and the NFPA has long urged every family draw up a plan and practice it. Indeed, before the NFPA conducted a three-year Fire Prevention Week campaign called “The Great Escape,” only one-sixth of households had developed and practiced escape plans. But one-quarter is not good enough; there remains a long way to go in this aspect of fire safety.
The good news is that two-thirds of Americans have an escape plan. But most of those who say they have plans have not practiced them—a key step in preparedness.
The NFPA survey, conducted by Harris Interactive (PDF, 759 KB), in which 1,014 adults were interviewed by phone last fall, also found that people older than age 65 were most likely to have developed an escape plan. But they were least likely to have practiced their escape plan if they had one. This is unfortunate because many older people move with difficulty and would benefit most from practicing getting out of the home quickly.
Those least likely to have even developed an escape plan are 18 to 24 – an age when children are less likely to be part of the household.
One reason why people may have neglected escape planning is that many overestimate how much time they will have to escape a fire. Two out of five respondents said they thought they would have six minutes or more before a fire turns life-threatening, and one quarter thought they’d have a full 10 minutes. In fact, people often have only two minutes to get out safely.
The NFPA offers these tips on escape planning:
NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating scientifically-based consensus codes and standards, research, training and education. Visit NFPA’s Web site at www.nfpa.org.
Contact: Margie Coloian, NFPA Public Affairs Office: +1-617-984-7275