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Draw up a plan in case of fire and practice it monthly to help keep your family safe.
More than 3,500 Americans die each year in fires. But with a sound escape plan, these tragedies can be almost avoidable.
Time is of the essence when fire breaks out at home. A small flame can get out of control in less than 30 seconds, and within a few minutes thick black smoke can make your home impossible to navigate.
Discuss an escape plan with your family to ensure everyone’s safety. Here’s how:
Plan for two ways to escape each room -- a primary method and a back-up plan in case it’s blocked. (Think windows and the roof. You can purchase collapsible ladders to place near windows and they can be tossed out in an emergency.) Tour the house to discuss escape routes.
Make sure windows slide open easily, screens can be removed quickly, and quick-release devices on security bars are in good working order. Close your eyes and practice feeling your way out of a room. Make sure every family member understands how to use every type of window in the home.
If there is a fire in your home, leave quickly and carefully:
Escape first, then notify the fire department. Never go back into a burning building for any reason. If someone is missing, notify the firefighters, who are equipped to perform rescue safely.
Practice your escape routes a few times. Fire officials recommend monthly drills.
Prevention is also important, especially in homes where young children reside. Store lighters and matches out of reach and sight, and practice how to escape with your toddlers on a regular basis. Buy fire extinguishers for fire-prone areas like the kitchen, basement and garage.
Make sure every level of your home has a working smoke alarm. Test batteries monthly, and replace them yearly.