Firefighters Urge: Have Two Ways Out

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - In a fire emergency, minutes matter and knowing what to do could save your life. Do you and your loved have a plan for what to do if flames strike your home?

Take a moment and look around your room. Do you have two ways out?

That's what the Topeka Fire Department is asking as part of its 2012 Fire Prevention Week.

"[Everyone] needs to have a fire escape plan in their home and in their place of business. If your primary way is blocked by fire, you have a secondary way to get out," fire investigator Michael Martin said.

He suggested parents sit down with their children and do this as a family project.

"We need to have the kids look at the floor plan, plan the two ways out and practice that," he said.

He also suggested making a plan for those who aren't able to get out on their own, such as family members in wheelchairs. And once outside, go to a pre-determined safe meeting place, such as a designated tree or a neighbor's house, Martin said.

"We don't want to stay in the house and fight the fire. That's what the fire department is for. So we immediately implement the escape plan, we get everybody out of the house [and] call the fire dept from outside the house," he said.

The first line of defense, Martin said, is to make sure you have working smoke detectors. And when you see smoke or fire - don't try to fight it. "Get out quickly," he said.

Knowing what to do - and what not to do - can save lives.

"We want to be able to grab our pets and take them out. But as much as we love our pets, we need to get out of the house," he said. "When you get outside, you get to your meeting place, and the fire department gets there, tell the firefighter. We'll make an effort to go get that animal. But that pet is not worth a human life," he said.

The Topeka Fire Department is giving out free smoke detectors along with a 10-year battery. Firefighters can help you install them. Call the fire department at 368-4000 for an application.