Will you ever have a fire in your home?
We all hope not but, if you ever do, will you know what to do?
Your life and the lives of your family members might depend on it.
Most people aren't prepared for a fire. Maybe it's because they think it will never happen to them or, if it does, they won't have any trouble getting out safely.
In most fires, you'll have only three to four minutes to escape safely.
This is not enough time to devise a plan and make sure everyone in your home knows what to do.
Devising an escape plan now and practicing it with your family can help insure that everyone will get out safely, should you ever have a fire.
For most, fires are scary and unfamiliar. By practicing an escape plan, you could help your family react faster and make better choices for their safe escape, even though they may be panicked and frightened.
Plan two ways out of every room, and include windows as an option.
Test the emergency exits, such as the windows, to make sure you can open them and remove the screens and storm windows inside.
Test all smoke alarms monthly to ensure they work. Replace batteries as needed.
Make sure everyone understands the escape plan and recognizes the sound of the smoke alarm.
If children or others do not readily awaken to the sound of the smoke alarm, or if there are infants or other family members with mobility limitations, make sure that your plan identifies someone to assist them.
Teach your family to stay low and crawl below the smoke to avoid its poisonous gases.
Crawling to the exits is vital as 80 percent of all fire deaths are caused by smoke inhalation.
Arrange for a meeting place outside the home.
Make sure everyone knows to get out quickly, go to the meeting place, and not return for any reason, not even for pets or a favorite toy.
Call the fire department from a neighbor's house or use a cellular phone.
Do not stay in a burning building to use a phone.
Do you have a fire safety or EMS question? We welcome your inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Washington Township Fire Department Fire Marshal Alan Perkins submitted the Smoke Signals column.