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Photo courtesy of KEPR-TV/CBS

 

I recently came across a news story about four people who safely escaped a fast-moving fire in their Kennewick, WA home. Working smoke alarms were credited for awaking them in time to get out safely.

 

It’s always great to hear stories about smoke alarms alerting people to fire, and I’m always grateful when local news outlets highlight their life-saving impact. But here’s where this new story differed from most others. It addressed another vital part of home fire safety that’s often overlooked: home escape planning and practice.

 

While I’m appreciative of the KEPR-TV news reporter who included this information in the story, I’m particularly thankful to Battalion Chief Tod Kreutz of the Kennewick Fire Department, who clearly made a point of highlighting the critical importance of home escape planning and practice.

 

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

 

“He (Kreutz) says they're still not sure why the man was forced to break the glass but says it shows the importance of planning ahead… The battalion chief is reminding families about the importance of having a plan in place, saying it's nearly as important as a working smoke detector. He recommends reviewing everyone's escape routes and your designated meeting place at least once a year.”

 

The story goes on to provide a series of home fire safety tips and recommendations.

 

As public educators in the fields of fire and life safety, we know today’s home fires burn faster than ever, leaving people with a minimal amount of time to safely escape from the time the smoke alarm sounds. While smoke alarms are surely the first line of defense in a fire, knowing how to use that time wisely takes advance planning and practice, and can make the difference between life and death in a home fire.

 

This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape,” serves as an ideal platform for communicating these messages in the months ahead.

 

Finding opportunities to promote home escape planning and practice, whatever the circumstances, is incredibly valuable; its importance can’t be overstated. I applaud Chief Kreutz for capitalizing on a local news story to do just that.

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