Department of Public Protection
Prompt Action Saves Lives in a House Fire
A house fire can kill the occupants in minutes. The Office of the State Fire Marshal encourages all Kentuckians to have a household exit plan and working smoke detectors – properly placed – in case of a fire.
“People need to understand how little time they have to get to safety,” State Fire Marshal Rodney Raby said. “Every year, we have approximately 600 house fires in Kentucky. If everyone took some basic steps, we could significantly reduce the deaths and injuries resulting from those fires.”
A fire exit plan is important any time but especially if a fire erupts while people are sleeping. Being suddenly awakened in blinding smoke is no time to begin thinking about how to get out. “You should already know your exit routes,” Raby said. “Look through your house and decide how everyone is going to get out if there is a fire. Once your plan identifies an exit for every family member, practice that plan.”
Proper placement of smoke alarms is essential. They should be installed on every level of the home, including the basement, and outside every separate sleeping area. Ceiling-mounted alarms should be at least four inches from the nearest wall; wall-mounted alarms should be four to 12 inches from the ceiling.
It is important to remember to change the battery once a year. Pick a day that is easily remembered and make it the date for changing smoke alarm batteries.
The State Fire Marshal offers these tips:
- Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes.
- Everyone in the household must understand the escape plan. When you walk through your plan, check to make sure the escape routes are clear and doors and windows can be opened easily.
- Choose an outside meeting place (i.e. neighbor’s house, a light post, mailbox or stop sign) a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they’ve escaped.
- Go outside to see if your street number is clearly visible from the road. If not, paint it on the curb or install house numbers to ensure that responding emergency personnel can find your home.
- If there are infants or older adult family members with mobility limitations, make sure that someone is assigned to assist them in the fire drill and in the event of an emergency. Assign a backup person too, in case the designee is not home during the emergency.
- Be fully prepared for a real fire. When a smoke alarm sounds, get out immediately.
- Once you are out, stay out! Under no circumstance should you ever go back into a burning building. If someone is missing, inform the fire department dispatcher when you call. Firefighters have the skills and equipment to perform rescues.
- Practice your home fire escape plan twice a year, making the drill as realistic as possible.
- It is important to determine during the drill whether children and others can readily waken to the sound of the smoke alarm. If they fail to awaken, make sure that someone is assigned to wake them up as part of the drill and in a real emergency.
- If your home has two floors, every family member must be able to escape from the second floor rooms. Escape ladders can be placed in or near windows to provide an additional escape route.
- Always choose the escape route that is safest – the one with the least amount of smoke and heat – but be prepared to escape through toxic smoke if necessary.
- When practicing your fire drill, everyone should practice getting low and going through the smoke to your exit. By keeping your head low, you’ll be able to breathe the “good” air that is closer to the floor.
- Closing doors on your way out slows the spread of fire, giving you more time to safely escape.
The Office of the State Fire Marshal is part of the Department of Public Protection in the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet.