New Study Shows Alarming Lack Of Practice In Family Fire Safety Plans

BOSTON, Oct. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Fire departments in the U.S. respond to calls every 23 seconds to the hundreds of thousands of home fires reported each year that take the lives of thousands. Yet, less than half (46 percent) of U.S. parents report that they have ever practiced a home fire drill with their family, according to a new survey published today by Liberty Mutual Insurance and IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters). And even though a little more than half of parents say they have developed a fire escape plan in the last year, one in four have not practiced it with their families.

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"More than 3,000 people die each year in structure fires in North America, and we need to do everything we can to reduce that number," says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. "Having an escape plan to get your family out of a home during a fire and making sure everyone knows the escape route is crucial."

It can take only 30 seconds for a flame to become a major fire and two minutes from the time a smoke alarm sounds until your primary escape route is impassable. Because of this urgent need for preparedness, and to recognize National Fire Safety Month this October and Liberty Mutual's National Family Fire Drill Day (October 6), Liberty Mutual Insurance and IAFF are calling for all families to prepare AND practice a home fire safety plan.

The combination of preparing and practicing matters as the survey found that 84 percent of children who have practiced their escape plan are confident that they can get out of any room in their house during a fire emergency and 90 percent know how to get to the family meeting spot outside the home. The significance of planning and practicing is amplified by the fact that only 46 percent of children who have never practiced a home fire escape know where to go for their family's safe meeting spot.

"Practice doesn't just make perfect, it can mean the difference between life and death," says Tom Harned, fire safety expert with Liberty Mutual Insurance and the Chief Fire Officer in Gilbertsville, Pa. "The majority of children are learning about fire safety at school but there is a big difference between an orderly school evacuation in daylight and knowing how to safely get out of your bedroom if there's a fire at the door, potentially in the middle of the night."

Safety In Numbers? Not Necessarily.

The Liberty Mutual/IAFF survey reveals a wide gap in between perception and reality when it comes to children's fire safety preparedness:

  • While 81 percent of parents believe that their child knows what to do if there is a fire in the house, only 40 percent of children surveyed say that they have practiced a home fire drill, revealing a wide gap between perception and reality.
  • Similarly, 79 percent of parents report their family has a safe meeting spot to meet outside their home, yet nearly one-third of children (32 percent) cannot confirm they know of one.
  • Equally concerning is that while 54 percent of parents have developed a fire safety plan in the past year, only a third (36 percent) have actually walked through their home with their family to identify fire hazards.

"As parents we have great responsibility to protect our families, and the best way to ensure their safety in the event of a fire emergency is to work together to create a safety plan and practice it regularly," added Harned.

To incentivize parents and children to work together to create a family fire escape plan this month, Liberty Mutual Insurance will reward one family with a vacation trip to the Walt Disney World® Resort for their planning efforts. Entrants can upload a photo of their family practicing their fire escape plan or another home fire safety activity at the BeFireSmart Facebook Page for a chance to win. For more information on how to create a family fire escape plan and a downloadable Fire Escape Checklist, visit While in Florida, families can also visit Liberty Mutual's "Where's the Fire?TM" exhibit in INNOVENTIONS at Epcot®, the largest interactive fire safety and education display in the U.S.

About the Study

Liberty Mutual Insurance commissioned Ketchum Global Research and Analytics to conduct a survey to gauge parents' and children's fire safety knowledge and behavior. The phone survey, fielded by Braun Research, was conducted from August 29 – September 9, 2012. The survey reached 1,015 parents and 657 children age 7-13 nationwide. The margin of error for the parent survey is +/-3.1%. The margin of error for the children's survey is +/-3.8%.

About International Association of Fire Fighters

The International Association of Fire Fighters, the largest union of fire fighters in the world, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and represents more than 300,000 professional fire fighters and paramedics who protect 85 percent of the population in North America.

About Liberty Mutual Insurance

"Helping people live safer, more secure lives" since 1912, Boston-based Liberty Mutual Insurance is a diversified global insurer and the third largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on 2011 direct premiums written as reported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Liberty Mutual Insurance also ranks 84th on the Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. corporations based on 2011 revenue. The company has over 45,000 employees located in more than 900 offices throughout the world.

The sixth-largest auto and home insurer in the U.S., Liberty Mutual Insurance ( sells full lines of coverage for automobile, homeowners, valuable possessions, personal liability, and individual life insurance. The company is an industry leader in affinity partnerships, offering auto and home insurance to employees and members of more than 14,000 companies, credit unions, professional associations and alumni groups.

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Glenn Greenberg
Liberty Mutual Insurance

Abby Berg-Hammond
Ketchum for Liberty Mutual Insurance

Tim Burn

SOURCE Liberty Mutual Insurance