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Consider this scenario: 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.
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 critical in a fire situation. It ensures that everyone in the household knows how to use that window of time wisely.
“Developing and practicing a home escape plan is like building muscle memory,” said Ron Kunda, Fire Marshal, Bismarck Fire Department. “That pre-planning is what everyone will draw upon to snap into action and escape as quickly as possible in the event of a fire.”
This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” works to better educate the public about the critical importance of developing a home escape plan and practicing it. The Bismarck Fire Department is working in coordination with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to reinforce those potentially life-saving messages. October is Fire Prevention Month in Bismarck.
In support of Fire Prevention Month, the Bismarck Fire Department encourages 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.
When developing and practicing your home escape plan have all members of your family involved. Draw a map of your home that identifies two ways out of each room and the path to the outside meeting place. Make sure your house address is clearly visible from the street. Once your plan is complete, practice it with your family at least twice a year with everyone using both exits from each room. Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them, including how to open the window and get out. In the event the window escape is high off the ground, a fire escape ladder can be purchased from your local hardware store. Close doors behind you as you leave to slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire to other parts of the home. Once you are out, stay out! Never go back inside a burning or smoke filled building.
For more fire safety tips including a home fire safety checklist, visit the Bismarck Fire Department website at www.bismarcknd.gov/fire or NFPA at www.nfpa.org.