DEAR ABBY: For many people, home is a place where they feel safe and secure. But what happens when "home" becomes a place you need to escape from because of a fire? If you don't have an immediate answer to that question, you are not alone. Many individuals do not have a plan, or practice what to do in the event of a fire. But these life-saving steps are critical.
Eight out of every 10 fire deaths in the United States occur in homes. Each year, between 2,500 and 3,000 people are killed in home fires, while an estimated 12,000 to 13,000 suffer injuries.
All of us must share in the responsibility of protecting ourselves, our homes and our communities from fire. Ideally, this means preventing fires from happening in the first place, but it also means being prepared to escape should a fire occur. Planning and practicing escape from a fire makes it more likely that people will survive one.
All families should also make sure they have working smoke alarms. In order to successfully escape a fire, it is vital to be alerted to one as early as possible. Smoke alarms should be on every level of your home, inside each sleeping room and outside each sleeping area. They should be tested once a month and should never be disabled or have their batteries removed.
I hope that everyone reading this will take the time during Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 7-13) to review fire safety and practice a home fire escape plan. Resources for developing a plan and safety tips are available at � HYPERLINK "http://www.firepreventionweek.org" ��www.firepreventionweek.org�. -- JAMES M. SHANNON, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION
DEAR JAMES: There's an old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." So thank you for offering me the opportunity to remind everyone about the importance of being prepared in advance for an emergency evacuation in case of fire -- or some other natural disaster.
Readers, this year the National Fire Protection Association is focusing its annual public awareness campaign on home fire escape planning. The theme: Practice Your Escape Plan.
Having an escape plan in place is essential to being prepared to act quickly in case of emergency. To develop a home fire escape plan, identify two ways out of each room and designate a meeting place outside. Make sure the plan addresses any specific needs of household members. Also, consider that some people may not awaken to the sound of the smoke alarms and may require help to wake up.
Having an escape plan that has been practiced in advance allows more time to get out if a fire occurs. And should a fire strike, those precious moments can mean the difference between life and death.