The Tennessee State Fire Marshal's Office (SFMO) is reminding parents and caregivers of the necessity of child fire safety education this summer in light of a recent analysis of state fire data that reveals an ongoing increase in child fire fatalities during this time of year.
Data from the Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System shows that since 2010 there is an observed increase in fire fatalities and multiple fatality incidents involving children under 18 in the months of June and July. In fact, 16 percent of all Tennessee house fire victims under the age of 18 died in fires in June and July. Since 2010, seven child fire deaths occurred in June and eight occurred in July, compared to a total of only one in May and four in August, figures show.
"During the summer months, children are often left at home with teenage siblings or babysitters," State Fire Marshal and Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. "Parents must take care to ensure children know what to do if there is an emergency. We encourage parents to sit down with their children to discuss a home fire escape plan and what to do in an emergency."
The SFMO encourages Tennesseans to create a home fire escape plan with a designated outside meeting place. The plan should be practiced at least twice a year with everyone who lives in the home. Additionally, since most deadly fires occur at night, every bedroom should be equipped with a working smoke alarm.
The State Fire Marshal's Office offers the following additional tips to help you best protect your family from the dangers of fire:
Plan Your Escape
• Draw a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room.
• Agree on an outside meeting place where everyone should gather in the event of an emergency. Make sure it's something permanent, like a tree, light pole, or mail box, and that it's a safe distance from the home.
• Practice makes perfect! Hold home fire drills twice a year to ensure everyone in your home knows what to do in the event of a fire. Practice using different ways out.
• Install smoke alarms inside every sleeping area, outside every sleeping area and on every level of the home. The SFMO has created a helpful video showing how to properly install smoke alarms.
• Test smoke alarms monthly and replace batteries at least once a year. Remember: no matter what type of smoke alarm you use, they are only good for 10 years.
• Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of the smoke alarm and what it signifies.
• Ensure everyone in the household can unlock and open all doors and windows, even in the dark.
• If a room has a window air conditioner, make sure there is still a second way out of the room. Windows with security bars, grills, and window guards should have emergency release devices. Make sure you everyone in the home can operate these.
• Children, older adults, and people with disabilities may need assistance to wake up and get out. Make sure that someone will help them.
• Teach your children how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them.
• If the smoke alarm sounds or fire is discovered in your home, get out fast. Close doors behind you as you leave to help stop the spread of the fire.
• Test doors before opening them. Use the back of your hand to see if the door is warm. If it is, use another escape route.
• If you have to escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your way out.
• If you are trapped, close all doors between you and the fire. Stuff the cracks around the doors with clothes or towels to keep out smoke. Call the fire department, wait at a window and signal for help with a light-colored cloth or a flashlight.
• Once you are out, stay out. Don't go back inside for any reason.
• Call the fire department from your safe, outside meeting place.
• If people or pets are trapped, notify the fire department and let them handle the rescue efforts.