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House fire

National Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 7 through 13. On average, seven people die in a home fire in the U.S. every day, and only one-third of Americans have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. In a home fire, seconds count, and can mean the difference between escaping a fire safely or tragedy. There are important steps households can take to prevent tragedy from happening.

• Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound. Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as one or two minutes to escape safely once the alarm sounds.

• Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Households with children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. Also, mark the location of each smoke alarm. For easy planning, download National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) escape planning grid at nfpa.org This is a wonderful way to get children involved in fire safety in a non-threatening way.

• As you leave your home, close the doors behind you. A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.

• And finally, once you are outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.

These important steps can help you protect yourself and your loved ones. You can find more helpful information regarding fire safety at nfpa.org, mrfdfire.org and safekidsmissoula.org.

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Jason Butler and Forest Brown write on behalf of the Missoula Rural Fire District, a member of the Safe Kids Missoula Coalition.

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