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DEAR ABBY: Can you imagine waking to the sound of your smoke alarm in the middle of the night? Would you know what to do? Half of all home fires occur between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. -- when most people are sound asleep.

This year the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the official sponsor of Fire Protection Week for more than 80 years, has teamed with Pella Windows and Doors and the Home Safety Council to promote fire safety education and preparedness during Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 5-11, 2003. Our theme: "When Fire Strikes, GET out! STAY out!" Our campaign drives home the message that when the smoke alarm goes off, you should leave right away using one of your two preplanned escape routes -- AND NOT GO BACK INSIDE FOR ANY REASON.

Abby, please let parents know that as part of their escape plan, they must make sure that smoke alarms wake everyone in the home, especially children. If family members do not wake to the sound of the alarm, consider installing interconnected smoke alarms in all the bedrooms. When one alarm sounds, they all sound. Or assign an adult to take the sound sleepers and assist them in escaping.

Thank you for sharing this important information with your readers. -- JAMES M. SHANNON, PRESIDENT, NFPA

DEAR READERS: Since this is Fire Prevention Week, I can think of no better time for all of us to ensure that there are working batteries in our smoke alarms. If you haven't already done so, now is also the time to craft a fire escape plan so that if your fire alarm does sound, you and your loved ones will all get out without being injured. Plan not one, but two avenues of escape in case one is blocked. Also, an escape plan is no good unless everyone is familiar with it -- so practice, practice, practice.

DEAR ABBY: Years before we met, my husband, "Phil," had a relationship with a married woman I'll call Trish. It began before we met and ended when our relationship began. Phil and Trish believe that her first child is his.

For the first seven years of this child's life, Phil watched the child from afar and continued having relations with Trish. Her husband has no clue.

I told Phil I wanted nothing to do with this charade. I said they should both fess up and come clean for the child's sake. It never happened. But since he terminated his relationship with Trish, I really couldn't complain.

Trish has continued to e-mail and call Phil attempting to arrange a dinner for the two of them so they can catch up, and he could be kept informed of the child's development. (He is now 13.) I told Phil I would entertain the idea if Trish's husband and I were included. He said that was impossible.

Last night, Phil received an e-mail from Trish stating that he had promised he would "always be there" for her -- and now he isn't. Phil didn't respond.

I don't want to cause additional hardship for the child. Am I being immature, unrealistic or unfair? Your input, please. -- PHIL'S WIFE IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR WIFE: You are none of the above. You are a shrewd lady who is trying to protect her marriage.

If any dinners are planned so Phil can "be there" for Trish, you should also be there. It will send a strong message.

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