Grinnell Mutual urges residents to “Have Two Ways Out!” during Fire Prevention Week, October 7-13

If you woke up to a fire in your home, how much time do you think you would have to get to safety?  According to the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), one-third of Americans estimate they would have at least six minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening. Unfortunately, the time available is often less.

That’s why Grinnell Mutual is promoting NFPA’s message, “Have Two Ways Out!” during Fire Prevention Week, October 7-13. This year’s theme focuses on the importance of fire escape planning and practice.

“People often don’t understand how quickly fire spreads.  Escape plans make a difference.  When an emergency situation occurs, people’s reactions to get out will be second nature if they’ve practiced their escape plan.  If not, they’ll panic,” explains Alan Clark, Grinnell Mutual’s assistant vice president of Special Investigations.  “It’s no different than what your fire service does – they train so they know how to react in emergencies.  If a fire breaks out in your home, get out and stay out.  Then call the fire department from a safe location.”

"During 2011 within the US, one home structure fire was reported every 23 seconds,” says State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds.  “Fire is unpredictable and moves faster than most people realize.  Having a tried and true escape plan with two ways out is essential to ensuring your family’s safety should fire break out in your home.”

In 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to 484,500 home structure fires, approximately one structure fire every 65 seconds. These fires caused 15,635 civilian injuries, 2,640 civilian deaths, and $9.7 billion in direct damage.

Grinnell Mutual recommends the following tips for planning your family’s escape:

  • Make a map of your home. Mark a door and a window that can be used to get out of every room.  Make sure all windows and doors open easily and can be used to get outside.
  • Choose a meeting place outside in front of your home. This is where everyone can meet once they’ve escaped. Draw a picture of your outside meeting place on your escape plan.
  • Write the emergency telephone number for the fire department on your escape plan.
  • Have an adult sound the smoke alarm and practice your escape plan with everyone living in your home.
  • Keep your escape plan on the refrigerator and remind adults to schedule a family practice twice a year or whenever anyone in your home celebrates a birthday.

In addition to making and practicing a home escape plan, Fire Prevention Week is also a good time to:

  • Test and replace batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Inspect and clean chimneys prior to heating season.
  • Consider installing residential sprinkler systems.
  • Visit NFPA’s website at to learn more about fire prevention.

Fire Prevention Week

Videos reproduced from NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week website, © NFPA 2011.