Preparedness is essential

Preparedness is essential when the smoke detector sounds

A home fire is a terrible thing. Depending on the degree of damage, an entire family can be displaced for an extended period of time. People often lose valuable belongings, many of them representing cherished memories rather than dollars. But the loss of life and serious injury can often be averted. If you have a well-practiced plan.

“When it comes to being ready in case of a fire emergency, heed the Boy Scout motto and ‘Be Prepared,’” says Huntington Fire Chief Tim Albertson. “Whether you live in a house or an apartment, you should a have predetermined exit route from your home when the smoke detector goes off.”

Albertson suggests that someone in the household draw a map that includes exit paths from every room and area of the home. “Share that map with everyone living in the home and discuss exit options,” he says. “If possible, everyone should know two ways out of every room, and all doors and windows should be easily opened from the inside. Close all doors behind you as you leave rooms, and have a preset meeting place a safe distance from the house.”

And then, practice makes perfect. “Hold a fire drill during the day and at night when everyone is at home at least twice a year,” Albertson advises. “And practice using different ways out of a room or the house. Teach children how to escape without your help in case you can’t reach them.

Kids may think the fire drills are fun, but they could be a lifesaver during a real emergency.”

If there is a real emergency, leave the home as soon as you can. “When the smoke detector goes off, get out of the house immediately,” Albertson says. “There’s usually less time to get out of the house than people anticipate. Some fires can consume a room or an entire structure in minutes. Don’t try to gather any belongings, no matter how expensive or precious they are to you. Rely on your insurance to replace what can be replaced. Once you’re outside, never go back in for anything—and that includes people and pets.”

If you can’t get out of the house before it starts to fill with smoke, get down below the smoke and move as quickly as you can toward one of the predetermined exit points. The last person out of the house should close the door to help contain the fire.

“Call 9-1-1 from outside the home and wait for the professional firefighters,” Albertson adds. “We’ll be there as soon as possible.”





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