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    Getting Out Safely:
    Have a Plan

    You know about fire hazards. You know that matches and lighters need to be stored in a locked cabinet and you know the safe way to cook. You also know about smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. But what if a fire does start? Do you know what to do?

    Fires spread very quickly. If you hear the smoke alarm go off, you and your family need to know what to do. The most important thing to remember is to GET OUT FAST! In a typical home fire, you may have as little as two minutes to escape once the smoke alarm sounds. Each year in the United States, fire kills more than 3,500 people and injures tens of thousands more.

    Home fire escape planning and practice can make a big difference. By creating and practicing a home fire escape plan, your family will know exactly what to do so every one can escape a fire quickly and safely. Some kids get scared and hide when the smoke alarms go off or when they see firefighters. This is a very dangerous thing to do. If a fire starts, be sure to get out fast. So get planning!

    Developing Your Own Fire Safety Plan

    Step 1: Know Two Ways Out

    You and your family should know two ways out of every room. One way out could be the door, and the second way out may be a window. Kids, ask your parents about purchasing a home fire escape ladder for bedrooms located on second and third floors. If you do have a fire escape ladder, make sure you practice setting up the ladder from a first floor window to make sure you can do it correctly and quickly. Also, make sure everyone in your home knows how to unlock and lock all the windows and doors. Try practicing in the dark too! Your two exits will only do you good if you know how to use the locks.

    Many of us live in apartments. There are some special things to remember if you live in an apartment. If you live in an apartment building, make sure you know the building's evacuation plan. In case of a fire use the stairs, never the elevator. In some cases, the safest action when a fire alarm sounds may be to stay inside your apartment and protect yourself from smoke until the fire department arrives. Seal all doors and vents with duct tape or towels to prevent smoke from entering the room. Open a window at the top and bottom so fresh air can enter. Be ready to close the window immediately if it draws smoke into the room. Call the fire department and let them know that you are still inside the building. Wave a flashlight or light colored cloth at the window to let the fire department know where you are located.

    Step 2: Establish a Meeting Place

    Now that you know how to get out of your house in case of a fire you, your family needs to designate an outside meeting place. You may be asking yourself, "Why do we need a meeting place?" Meeting places are important because if there is a fire your parents and the firefighters will want to make sure that everyone is out of the house safely. If you don't have a meeting place, your family could be scattered around the neighborhood and your loved ones would be worried that someone may be trapped inside the burning house. If this happens, firefighters would have to go into a dangerous situation when they may not need to.

    Where should our meeting place be?

    Your meeting place should be a safe distance from your home. It could be across the street in front of a neighbor's tree or at a stop sign near your home. Once you decide where your meeting place will be, make sure you mark this place on your map and practice having all members of your house report immediately to your outside meeting place during fire drills.

    Step 3: Know Emergency Contact Numbers

    Everyone in your home should memorize the local fire department's emergency phone number, which should be contacted from a neighbor's phone or by using a portable or cell phone if you are able to grab one as you are exiting your house.

    Step 4: Practice, Practice, Practice!

    After you make your plan, practice it. Just like teachers and students practice fire drills at school, we should also practice them with our families at home. Fire escape plans should be practiced at least twice a year. Pick a date with your family to practice. Make sure everyone is involved. If there are infants or family members with disabilities, make sure someone is assigned to help them. Be fully prepared for a real fire: when a smoke alarm sounds, get out immediately. And once you're out, stay out!

    Source: National Fire Protection Association

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