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Mendo Lake Family Life

5 Points of an Effective Home-Fire Escape Plan

No one in Mendocino and Lake Counties has to be convinced about the importance of preventing fires. But the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Fire Prevention Week, October 9–15, is a good time to review your family’s fire safety measures: Make sure there is 100 feet of defensible space around your home and that your family has a home escape plan that all members know and regularly practice.

According to NFPA data, home—the place people feel safest from fire—is actually where they are at greatest risk, with three-quarters (74 percent) of all US fire deaths occurring in residences. When a home fire does occur, it’s more likely to be serious; people are more likely to die in a home fire today than they were in 1980.

“Today’s homes burn faster and hotter than they used to, minimizing the amount of time [people] have to escape safely,” says NFPA public affairs representative Lorraine Carli. “In a typical home fire, you may have as little as two minutes to get out from the time the smoke alarm sounds.”

Developing a home escape plan with all members of the household and practicing it regularly ensures that, when the smoke alarm sounds, everyone knows what to do and uses that time wisely.

Here are the basics for an effective home escape plan:

1. Make sure your plan meets the needs of all family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities.

2. Smoke alarms should be installed inside every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of your home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound.

3. Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows open easily.

4. Establish an outside spot a safe distance from your home to meet. 

5. At least twice a year, practice your home fire drill with everyone in the household, including guests. Practice at least once during the day and at night.

As the biggest annual campaign at NFPA, Fire Prevention Week works to educate people about the leading home fire risks and how best to protect themselves and their loved ones.

To learn more about Fire Prevention Week, visit

Founded in 1896, NFPA® is a global self-funded nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property, and economic loss due to fire, electrical, and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission. For more information, visit All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed online for free at