It’s fire safety week: Have an escape plan

OKEECHOBEE — At the Oct. 8 meeting, the Okeechobee County commissioners declared Oct. 6-12 as Fire Safety Week.

Lake Okeechobee News/
County Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs (left) presented Fire/Rescue Chief Ralph Franklin with the proclamation for Fire Safety Week at the Oct. 8 county commission meeting.

Commissioner Bryant Culpepper read the proclamation, which notes U.S. home fires resulted in 2,334 civilian deaths in 2018, representing the majority (77 percent) of all U.S. fire deaths.

Newer homes are built with lightweight materials that burn faster than older home constructions; and many of today’s products and furnishings produce toxic gases and smoke when burned, making it impossible to see and breathe within moments, the proclamation continues.

“A home fire escape plan provides the skill set and know-how to quickly and safely escape a home fire situation. A home fire escape plan includes two exits from every room in the home; a path to the outside from each exit; smoke alarms in all required locations; and a meeting place outside where everyone in the home will meet upon exiting.”

The 2019 Fire Prevention Week theme, “Not every hero wears a cape. Plan And Practice Your Escape!” reminds the public about the vital importance of developing a home fire escape plan with all members of the household and practicing it twice a year.

Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs noted that some people in the community still have their hurricane shutters up. He said that is a fire safety hazard. He asked everyone to take down the shutters.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is to be sure your bedroom doors are closed,” said Commissioner Kelly Owens.

It makes a huge difference in terms of a fire spreading in the house, she explained.

Mothers sometimes see the door as a barrier between them and their children, but the closed door could save their children’s lives, she said.

It is also important to make sure the windows can easily be used as an exit, she added.

Commissioner Culpepper also reminded everyone it is important to install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

“Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms save lives,” he said.

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