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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Home fires can happen at any time and spread in just minutes, claiming the lives and property of those affected. During the week of October 7-13, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), in partnership with the National Fire Protection Association, are encouraging individuals and families to have a fire escape plan. People can protect their homes and loved ones from emergencies by making their homes safer now and throughout the year.

Hundreds of thousands of fires happen in and around American homes every year, killing or injuring thousands of people and causing untold damage to families and communities. In 2010 alone, a total of 362,100 residential fires resulted in 2,555 deaths, 13,275 injuries, and more than $6.6 billion in property loss. For more information on fire statistics, visit: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/statistics/estimates/index.shtm.

FEMA Region III Acting Regional Administrator Robert Welch encourages everyone to prepare for and prevent against a fire: “In the event of a fire, remember that every second counts, so you and your family must always be prepared. Having an escape plan and practicing it can help you get out quickly.”

The best way to prepare for a fire is to plan in advance and practice your response plan. Here are some suggestions for how to get ready:

Check that all smoke alarms work: USFA recommends that every residence be equipped with both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors;

  • Make sure that there are two ways out of every room;
  • Make a home fire plan; and
  • Practice with family members including children, older family members, and individuals who have access and functional needs so that every person knows how to use both ways to get to safety.

Please help spread the word about fire safety planning and preparedness. For more information about fire safety and prevention, visit:

National Fire Protection Association at www.nfpa.org

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. FEMA Region III’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.  Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at http://www.fema.gov/medialibrary and www.youtube.com/fema.   Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/femaregion3.