You and your family are fast asleep when the smoke alarm sounds — Do you know what to do?

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Consider this scenario: It’s 2 o’clock in the morning. You and your family are fast asleep when you awaken to the smoke alarm sounding and the smell of smoke. What do you do? If you and your family don’t have a plan in place, it could jeopardize your safety, or even prove deadly.

Fire department officials across the state and in Imperial County are using Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 8-14, to educate families and residents on fire prevention and fire safety tips.

In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. That’s why home escape planning is so critical in a fire situation. It ensures that everyone in the household knows how to use that small window of time wisely.

“Developing and practicing a home escape plan is like building muscle memory,” said Ken Herbert, Fire Chief of the El Centro Fire Department. “That pre-planning is what everyone will draw upon to snap into action and escape as quickly as possible in the event of a fire.”

This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” helps to better educate the public about the critical importance of developing a home escape plan and practicing it. The El Centro Fire Department is working in coordination with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the official sponsor of the Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years, to reinforce those potentially life-saving messages. 

“Home escape planning is one of the most basic but fundamental elements of home fire safety, and can truly make the difference between life and death in a fire situation,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy.

In support of Fire Prevention Week, Chief Herbert encourages all households to develop a plan together and practice it. A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. It also includes two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole, or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home.

NFPA and the El Centro Fire Department offer these additional tips and recommendations for developing and practicing a home escape plan:

·         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.

For more information about Fire Prevention Week activities in El Centro, visit http://www.cityofelcentro.org/fire/fire-dep. To learn more about this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out” and home escape planning, visit firepreventionweek.org.