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Fatalities in Washington prompt fire officials to urge you to check smoke alarms

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is encouraging every household to develop and practice a home escape plan. (Photo: Ada Be, all creative commons)

OLYMPIA, Wash. —Only 31 days into the New Year and already there have been seven fire fatalities in Washington, and four of those fatalities were in homes with no working smoke alarms.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is encouraging every household to develop and practice a home escape plan.

This is a critical component to giving you and your family the best chance of survival in a home fire emergency.

"Fire builds so fast that it's easy for your house to get filled with smoke before you even realize what's happening," said Ben Shearer, Pasco fire safety specialist.

The frequency of home fire deaths may surprise you. Nationwide 336 fire fatalities in the first month of 2018, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Firefighters said disaster can happen to anyone, at any time.

"If you don't have a working smoke alarm in your home, then you're not going to know about it until all your exit routes are cut off and there’s no safe way to get out," Shearer said.

"We want to get that message out that working smoke alarms is just such an important part of your home's safety and your family’s safety."

Firefighters said buying working smoke alarms is a small price to pay to protect your family.

"What's one life worth, what's a night in the hospital worth, even a simple burn injury can be thousands of dollars in medical expenses," Shearer said.

State fire officials are encouraging every house told to develop and practice a home escape plan with your kids.

"When the smoke alarm sounds, it's has to be something that's a habit that they know what to do, that they're not panicked,” Shearer said. “They've practiced it enough times that they just go into motion."

Here is what you can do to protect the ones you love:

  • Sketch the floor plan of your home.
  1. Identify all doors, windows, and other possible emergency exits for every room in your home.
  2. Draw arrows to indicate your primary exits.
  3. With a different color, draw arrows to indicate secondary exits.
  4. Choose a meeting place outside of your home, and mark it on your escape plan.
  • Write the emergency telephone number for the fire department on your escape plan.
  • Write the emergency telephone number for the fire department on your escape plan.
  • Twice a year, practice your escape plan with everyone living in your home.
  • Keep your escape plan posted on the refrigerator.

To learn more about home escape planning and how to prevent home fires, visit the State Fire Marshal’s website at: http://www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/public/

Pasco Fire will be working with the local Red Cross this spring. The American Red Cross is working with Fire Departments across the country to improve the chances of getting out of a home safely.

The Sound the Alarm campaign works with the local Red Cross and other volunteer groups to go door to door and offer to install 10-year type alarms where needed. They will also do a home safety check and show you where your home could be safer. https://www.redcross.org/sound-the-alarm

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