Paso Robles News|Saturday, December 15, 2018
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Op-ed: Look, listen, learn 

Contributed by Randy Harris, Battalion Chief / Interim Fire Marshal

–As Fire Prevention Week approaches, the Paso Robles Department of Emergency Services encourages residents to “Look. Listen. Learn.” What does that mean?

Today’s home fires burn faster than ever. 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. Knowing how to use that time wisely takes planning and practice.

The Paso Robles Department of Emergency Services is teaming up with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) — the official sponsor of Fire Prevention WeekTM for more than 90 years — to promote this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere,” which works to educate the public about basic but essential ways to quickly and safely escape a home fire.

NFPA statistics show that the number of U.S. home fires has been steadily declining over the past few decades. However, the death rate per 1000 home fires that are reported to fire departments was 10 percent higher in 2016 than in 1980.

“These numbers show that while we’ve made significant progress in teaching people how to prevent fires from happening, there’s still much more work to do in terms of educating the public about how to protect themselves in the event of one,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “This is particularly critical given the increased speed at which today’s home fires grow and spread.”

Carli also notes that although people feel safest in their home, it is also the place people are at greatest risk to fire, with four out of five U.S. fire deaths occurring at home. That over-confidence contributes to a complacency toward home escape planning and practice.

This year’s “Look. Listen. Learn.” campaign highlights three steps people can take to help quickly and safely escape a fire:
• Look for places fire could start.
• Listen for the sound of the smoke alarm.
• Learn 2 ways out of every room.

While NFPA and the Paso Robles Department of Emergency Services are focusing on home fires, these fire safety messages apply to virtually anywhere.

“Situational awareness is a skill people need to use wherever they go,” said Randy Harris. “No matter where you are, look for available exits. If the alarm system sounds, take it seriously and exit the building immediately.”

For more information about Fire Prevention Week and home escape planning, visit the Paso Robles Department of Emergency Services website at https://www.prcity.com/482/Smoke- Detectors or www.firepreventionweek.org.

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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on , Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at scott@pasoroblesdailynews.com.