Fatal Fire Prompts Safety Message From Polk County

Bartow, Fla. (970 WFLA) - Early this morning, Polk County Fire Rescue worked a residential structure fire in north Lakeland with a confirmed fatality.

Seven people were inside the home, but six people were able to escape without injuries.   While the Polk County Sheriff’s Office conducts a death investigation, and the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations investigates the cause of the fire, residents are reminded that it is Fire Prevention Week. 

This year’s theme is Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out.   In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds.   That’s why home escape planning is so critical in a fire situation.   It ensures that everyone in the household knows how to use that small window of time wisely.   

“Developing and practicing a home escape plan is like building muscle memory,” said Fire Chief Anthony Stravino. “   That pre-planning is what everyone will draw upon to snap into action and escape as quickly as possible in the event of a fire.”

This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme, “Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out,” works to better educate the public about the critical importance of developing a home escape plan and practicing it. 

Polk County Fire Rescue is working in coordination with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the official sponsor of the Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years, to reinforce those potentially life-saving messages. 

“Home escape planning is one of the most basic but fundamental elements of home fire safety, and can truly make the difference between life and death in a fire situation,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. 

In support of Fire Prevention Week, Chief Stravino encourages all Polk County households to develop a plan together and practice it.   A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas.   It also includes two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole, or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home.

Polk County Fire Rescue and NFPA offer these additional tips and recommendations for developing and practicing a home escape plan:·        

Draw a map of your home with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.·        

Practice your home fire drill twice a year.   Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.·        

Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.

Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.

Close doors behind you as you leave - this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.

Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.

Photo & Story Credit: Polk County Fire And Rescue 

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