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Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as two minutes to escape safely once the alarm sounds. Your ability to get out depends on advance warning from smoke alarms and advance planning — a home fire escape plan that everyone in your family is familiar with and has practiced. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) only one-third of Americans have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan to ensure they could escape quickly and safely. American households that were surveyed found that one-third thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life-threatening. The time available is often less. And only 8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!
The Bismarck Fire Department encourages everyone to have working smoke alarms in their home, and develop and practice a home fire escape plan with their family. Here are some tips you can use to develop your fire escape plan with your family:
• Have everyone in the home sit down and develop the plan. Look at all possible exits and escape routes including windows with your family. Everyone must understand the escape plan.• Make sure to install interconnected smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. If you already have smoke alarms, make sure they all are working.• Walk through your plan, check to make sure the escape routes are clear and doors and windows can be opened easily.• Choose an outside meeting place a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet. Make sure to mark the location of the meeting place on your escape plan.• Go outside to see if your street number is clearly visible from the road. • Have everyone memorize the emergency phone number and their address.• Tell guests or visitors to your home about your family's fire escape plan. • Once you're out, stay out! Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. If someone is missing, inform the fire department dispatcher when you call.
Putting your plan to the test • Practice your home fire escape plan twice a year, making the drill as realistic as possible.• Allow children to master fire escape planning and practice before holding a fire drill at night when they are sleeping. • If your home has two floors, every family member (including children) must be able to escape from the second floor rooms. Escape ladders can be placed in or near windows. • Always choose the escape route that is safest – the one with the least amount of smoke and heat. When you do your fire drill, everyone in the family should practice getting low and going under the smoke to your exit.• Closing doors on your way out slows the spread of fire. • In some cases, smoke or fire may prevent you from exiting your home. Practice "sealing yourself in for safety" as part of your home fire escape plan.
For more information regarding fire safety visit the Bismarck Fire Department website at www.bismarcknd.gov/fire or call us at 355-1400. You can also visit the NFPA website at www.nfpa.org.