Fire Prevention Week: Know what to do when the smoke alarm sounds

The banners on Westlake's street poles are part of this year’s Fire Prevention Week public education campaign.

Westlake Fire Department encourages residents to plan escape routes

Consider this scenario: It is 2 o’clock in the morning. You and your family are fast asleep when you awaken to the smoke alarm blaring and the smell of smoke. What do you do? If you and your family don’t have a plan in place, it could jeopardize your safety, or even prove deadly.

In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Home escape planning is so critical. It ensures that everyone in the household knows how to use that small window of time wisely.

“Developing and practicing a home escape plan is like building muscle memory,” said Assistant Chief Mike Freeman of the Westlake Fire Prevention Bureau for the Westlake Fire Department. “Pre-planning is what your family members will use to take action and escape as quickly as possible in the event of a fire.”

This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme – “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” – focuses on the critical importance of developing a home escape plan and practicing it. The WFD is working in coordination with the National Fire Protection Association, the official sponsor of the Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years, to reinforce those potentially life-saving messages. Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 8-14.

In support of Fire Prevention Week, the Westlake Fire Department encourages all residents whether living in an apartment, a single family home or other types of dwellings to develop a plan together and practice it. An escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. It also includes two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home.

NFPA and the WFD offer these additional tips and recommendations for developing and practicing a home escape plan:

  • Draw a map of your home with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
  • Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
  • Make sure the address of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
  • Close doors behind you as you leave – this may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.
  • Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.

For more information about this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign and home escape planning, visit Learn more about the Westlake Fire Department at

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Volume 9, Issue 19, Posted 10:10 AM, 10.03.2017