National Preparedness Month (NPM) is an annual campaign to encourage Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, schools, organizations, businesses, and communities. NPM is led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is sponsored by the Ready Campaign in partnership with the Citizen Corps. While September is the month for recognizing national preparedness, the goal is to engage the public to make preparedness a part of their daily lives every day and not one single month.
This September marks the ninth annual NPM. This year’s theme is “Pledge to Prepare – Awareness to Action”. FEMA is asking the public — individuals, business, and organizations — to take specific action steps by doing at least one of the following:
- Learn about emergency hazards – including home fires -and their appropriate responses
- Make a communications plan
- Build an emergency kit
- Get involved in preparedness in their community.
Prepare for a Fire Emergency
In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for a house to fill with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames. By preparing for a fire emergency, you can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a fire casualty.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement. For extra safety, install smoke alarms both inside and outside sleeping areas.
- Test your smoke alarms once a month and change the batteries at least once a year.
- Replace smoke alarms every 8-10 years or as the manufacturer guidelines recommend.
- Plan your escape from fire. The best plans have two ways to get out of each room.
- Practice fire escape plans several times a year. Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
- Purchase only collapsible escape ladders evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
- Check that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be properly opened.
- Make sure everyone in your family understands and practices how to properly operate and open locked or barred doors and windows.
- Consider installing residential fire sprinklers in your home.
Contact your local fire department on a non-emergency phone number if you need help or have questions about fire safety in your home.