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Kids practice escaping house fire, firefighters encourage families to have an escape plan

Kids practice escaping house fire, firefighters encourage families to have an escape plan

PASCO, Wash. – Firefighters said education is the key to saving lives. October is Fire Safety Awareness Month and Pasco firefighters are visiting schools to teach your children what to do in case of a house fire.

This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” works to better educate the public about the critical importance of developing a home escape plan and practicing it.

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.

This month, Pasco fighters are ensuring that kids know how to use that small window of time wisely.

Imagine this. In the middle of the night, you hear to smoke alarm go off, then comes the smell of smoke, but does your family have an escape plan?

"The last thing we want is for somebody to be trapped inside the house," said Ben Shearer, of the Pasco Fire Department.

Pasco firefighters are visiting all Pasco schools and simulating what it would be like if there was a house fire.

When the smoke alarm goes off, they want kids to know how to get to safety on their own.

"What's the first thing we do when the smoke detector goes off?” a firefighter asks a group of kids.

Andrew Chavez eagerly raises his hand.

"We get low on the floor," he answers.

Then the smoke alarm sounds in the demonstration house.

"Alright everybody, get low get low!" the firefighter calls out.

The children follow directions and practice crouching down to the floor. By keeping low to the ground, they avoid breathing in the hot smoke.

"Check, feel the door, what do you feel?” the fire fighter asks next.

The kids put the back of their hand to the door.

“It's warm!" one girl calls out.

By testing the temperature of the door, they can feel if there is a fire on the other side and choose the safest exit.

"Now where do we go once we escape?” We go to our meeting spot,” the firefighter reminds the kids as they exit to safety.

After an escape, families should plan a place to meet, like the mailbox, so they know everyone made it out okay.

"There have been times in the past where a parent went back inside the house because they didn't know where the child was,” Shearer said. “Usually the child is at a neighbor’s house or hiding in a car because they're scared, but those parents don't always come back out."

Firefighters don't want that to happen. With this hands-on experience, students said it drives the lifesaving message home.

"When there is smoke in your room because there's a fire, feel the door if it’s hot, then you don't go that way, and if there is a window, crawl out the window," said Victor Martinez, a third grader at McGee Elementary.

If your family doesn’t have a plan in place, experts said it could jeopardize your safety, or even be deadly.

"You can replace a house, you can replace belongings, it’s hard to replace a kid," Shearer said.

When there's a fire, every second counts. Firefighters said you must plan two ways out. The students bring homework home to do this same exercise with the family.

Firefighters encourage every family to come up with a fire escape plan and practice it.

If you have questions for how to do this, coming up on Tuesday Oct. 10 Pasco firefighters are hosting an open house at Fire Station 82 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at 3502 Varney Lane, Pasco 93301.

Kids can get dressed up as a firefighter and they're also giving smoke alarms away.

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