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The best way to use your two minutes

Oct. 9, 2017

Photo of a family making a home fire escape plan.
Photo: You have two minutes to escape the typical home fire once the smoke alarm sounds. Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 8-14) is a great time to make and practice a home escape plan.

How far can you move in two minutes?  What if there are obstacles in your way? What if you don’t know exactly which path to take? You certainly won’t get as far. But what if your life depends on it?

Unfortunately, two minutes is the amount of time you’ll have to escape a typical home fire from the moment the smoke alarm sounds. And considering that a fire doubles in size every 60 seconds, you won’t want to waste any time getting away from it. That means you’ll need to have your escape routes (yes, that’s plural) planned and practiced ahead of time.

That’s the theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 8-14): “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” It’s a great opportunity to sit down with your family and make a home escape plan – and then practice it. If that sounds more easily said than done, here are some tips:

  • Make a map of your home. Mark the locations of all the smoke alarms, two exits from every room, a path from each exit to the outside, and an outdoor meeting place (like a mailbox or lamppost).
  • Practice the drill with your entire family twice a year – you may find it easier to remember if you test your smoke alarms at the same time.
  • Teach kids how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
  • Make sure your house number is easy to read. This will help the fire department get there more quickly.
  • Close doors behind you as you leave. It can help slow the spread of the fire.
  • Once you’re safely outside, stay there. Never go back inside a burning building.

If you follow these tips and use the other Fire Prevention Week resources, there’s a better chance that your two minutes will end with escape and relief rather than pain and tragedy.