DEAR READERS: It's National Fire Prevention Week again, and the message for 1992 is: "FIRE WON'T WAIT -- PLAN YOUR ESCAPE!"
Since 80 percent of all fire deaths occur in the home, knowing how to escape will dramatically increase your chances of survival.
Firefighters urge you to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors when you turn your clocks back from daylight-saving time -- Sunday, Oct. 27. However, the warning of the smoke detector is not enough. You must have a well-rehearsed plan of escape before a fire strikes.
Remember, smoke is thick, and you can't see through it. Also, toxic gases can be disorienting, so you should practice crawling close to the floor, feeling your way along walls until you reach the door to the exit.
Fire drills are essential to ensure safety, so all members of the family should participate. You should all plan two escape routes from each room and make sure that each exit is accessible. Also, check for windows that could be painted shut, furniture blocking doorways, dead-bolt locks too high for children to reach, etc., and remedy these obstacles before a fire breaks out.
If you must escape through smoke, remember to crawl close to the floor where the air is fresher. If your clothing catches fire, stop, drop to the floor and roll to extinguish flames!
If there are elderly, disabled or very young family members, special efforts to get them out must be planned. They should also be included in your fire drills.
Many lives have been saved because a farsighted homemaker had a sturdy rope attached to an upstairs window, enabling those who were trapped upstairs to slide down the rope to safety.
And remember, once you are out -- stay out. Never go back into a burning house in an effort to "save" anything.
Fire drills are important not only for homes, but for schools and places of employment.
Although this year's motto is "Plan Your Escape," I would hope that everyone who reads this has at least two fire extinguishers that are in working order; one for the front of the house or apartment, and one for the back.
DEAR ABBY: Many years ago, you recommended a reply to any intrusive question; it was, "Why do you ask?"
I can't tell you how often I have used this, and I must thank you for it again. -- JANE THEODOROPOULOS IN REDWOOD CITY
DEAR JANE: The "Why do you ask?" response covers a multitude of presumptuous questions that should not have been asked in the first place. And it always throws the nosy questioner off balance and renders him/her speechless.
Thank you for thanking me, Jane. It gives me the opportunity to let my readers know that they are not compelled to answer an embarrassing (or personal) question just because someone had the nerve to ask it.
What teen-agers need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with their peers and parents is now in Abby's updated, expanded booklet, "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)
4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112; (816) 932-6600