HARRISBURG, Pa. (ErieNewsNow) - Saturday marks the end of the 100th annual Fire Prevention Week, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Officials say this year's prevention week theme, “fire won't wait, plan your escape” works to educate everyone about the importance of planning.  

“Confusion and inaction can be fatal during the critical first few seconds after people hear a smoke alarm or smell smoke,” said Acting State Fire Commissioner Charles McGarvey. “Planning your escape and practicing that plan in advance are absolutely vital to protecting your safety,” McGarvey added. 

A home escape plan can include ensuring there are working smoke alarms on every level of a home and in every bedroom. It’s also important to include two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place that's a safe distance from the home. 

According to the Office of State Fire Commissioner, additional necessary preparations include: 

  • 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 practice using different ways out. 
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case adults are not able to help them. 
  • Make sure your house number 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. 
  • Never go back inside a burning building. Once outside, stay outside. 

Officials say homes today are filled with synthetic materials that burn hotter and faster than ever. In the event of a fire, they say you may have as little as two minutes to safely exit the structure from the time you first hear a smoke alarm.   

According to the National Fire Protection Association, home fire deaths are at their highest since 2007. 

Data also shows that 75 percent of all U.S. fire deaths occur in homes, and that Pennsylvania routinely ranks among the highest number of home fire fatalities in the nation.