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Plan today for fire safety

It may not feel that way this week, but winter is coming.

And winter is a prime time for household fires. Families spend more time indoors during the winter months, they cook almost exclusively indoors and they use heating systems that can increase the danger of fires in the home.

That’s why the National Fire Protection Association takes this week every year to remind people of the dangers of household fires during Fire Prevention Week, which this year is Oct. 8-14.

The NFPA’s theme this year is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” The theme was chosen to highlight both the split-second decisions that must be made during a household fire and the need for every member of a household to be aware of at least two routes of escape from any room in a home in case of a fire.

“Seconds can mean the difference between residents of our community escaping safely from a fire or having their lives end in tragedy,” the organization states on its website, www.nfpa.org, which is full of tips for making sure your home is safe and preparing for the possibility of a fire. Having an escape plan that everybody knows in advance can help make those seconds count.

The NFPA has the following suggestions aimed at making sure folks who have fires in their homes are able to escape safely:

  • Draw a map of your home with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
  • Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
  • Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
  • Close doors behind you as you leave — this may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.
  • Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.

To those suggestions, we would add the following: Make sure you have working smoke alarms on every floor of your home, outside every sleeping area and inside every sleeping room, and check the batteries in those alarms regularly, at least twice a year.

A little planning today can help avoid a tragedy later.