Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

September 29, 2017
Contact: Jane Lerner, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
               Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512


Picture this: it's 2 o'clock in the morning. You and your family are fast asleep when you awaken to the smoke alarm sounding and the smell of smoke. What do you do? If you and your family don't have a plan in place, it could jeopardize your safety, or even prove deadly. Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert warn residents that 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 important.

This year's Fire Prevention Week theme, "Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!" works to better educate the public about the importance of developing a home escape plan and practicing it. The Health Department's Healthy Neighborhood Program is working 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.

"In support of Fire Prevention Week, we encourage all 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," said Dr. Ruppert.

NFPA and the Healthy Neighborhood Program 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 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.

During Fire Prevention Week, a public information table will be located on the first floor of the Allison-Parris County Office Building, outside the Legislative Chambers, at 11 New Hempstead Road in New City. Information about smoke alarms, CO (carbon monoxide) alarms, fire prevention, and fire escape planning will be available.

The Health Department's Healthy Neighborhood Program can provide and install FREE smoke alarms to eligible residents, including low-to-modest income residents, at-risk families, and seniors. A brief home survey is required at the time of the visit. For more information, call the Healthy Neighborhood Program at 845-364-3290.

To learn more about this year's Fire Prevention Week campaign, "Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out" and home escape planning, visit