You know the drill -- or do you?
Pound the alarm! And I'm not talking about the hook from Nicki Minaj's latest single. I'm talking fire safety of the real sort, not of the rapper realm. There is an alarming lack of family awareness about home fire safety drills, according to a new study. And it's serious business -- it can take only 30 seconds for a flame to turn into a major fire and two minutes from the time a smoke alarm sounds until your primary escape route is blocked, say safety officials.
"Less than half, 46 percent, of U.S. parents report that they have ever practiced a home fire drill with their family…and even though a little more than half of parents say they have developed a fire escape plan in the last year, one in four have not practiced it with their families," according to a new survey published by Liberty Mutual Insurance and IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters).
I admit I was one of the "not practiced it" parents. Bad mom. But you don't need to be an insurance nerd like me to take notice and get the household to go through the drill. Consider this:" Winter is the most active season for residential building fires in America, with the highest number of such fires flaring up in December. Each year in the U.S., winter residential building fires result in an estimated average of 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries and $1.78 billion in property loss," says Liberty Mutual's Facebook page.
Letting the kids stay up late on occasion? Eh, not so bad. I can live with that. Caving in to the department store meltdown over wanting a new, completely ridiculous toy (my daughter begged for this, and we now have one) is a crime, but not totally criminal. But you don't want to be the parent that didn't teach your children – and other household members – how to safely get out of the home during a fire. For more information on how to create a family fire escape plan and a downloadable Fire Escape Checklist, visit befiresmart.com.
Des Toups is a writer, editor and expert on insurance, cars and personal finance. He has written extensively about all three for national publications such as MSN and major newspapers such as the Seattle Times. He has been quoted about insurance issues in The New York Times, USA Today and Kiplinger's.
Follow him on Twitter @destoups