You and your family are fast asleep when the smoke alarm sounds:
Do you know what to do?
FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Consider this scenario: It is 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.
During national Fire Prevention Week, held October 8-14, the Fort Irwin Fire Department is working in coordination with the National Fire Protection Association to better educate the public about the critical importance of developing a home escape plan and practicing it.
The theme of this year’s observance is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!”. In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely after 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 John Michna, Chief Deputy Fire of the Fort Irwin 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.”
In support of Fire Prevention Week, Michna encourages all Fort Irwin households to develop a plan and practice it. A home escape plan includes ensuring there are working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. It also includes establishing two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place — such as a tree, light pole, or mailbox — that is a safe distance from the home.
“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.
The Fort Irwin Fire Department and NFPA offer these additional tips and recommendations for developing and practicing a home escape plan:
• Draw a map of your home with all members of the household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
• Practice the home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one drill at night and one during the day, with everyone in the home. Practice using different ways out of the building.
• Teach children how to escape on their own in case parents are unable to help them.
• Make sure the house number 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 outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.
For more information about Fire Prevention Week activities at Fort Irwin, visit Fort Irwin’s Fire Prevention Facebook page. To learn more about this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” and find resources for home escape planning, visit