Fire Prevention Week: Having an Escape Plan

Taylor Dayton
Updated: October 10, 2018 06:22 PM

As Fire Prevention Week continues, WDIO along with Lake Superior College, Per Mar Security Services, and Heritage Window and Door is spreading the word to help keep your family and property safe. Meteorologist Taylor Dayton learned some important steps everyone should know.  Do you have an escape plan? 

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Imagine that you wake up in the middle of the night and the smoke alarms are blaring. All of a sudden you can smell smoke, and you realize that your house is on fire. How are you going to get out, and where are the kids? It's not something that you want to think about, but if you don't, you just might not make it out alive.

"Once you start breathing in that toxic air it disorients you, and you can collapse and not find your way out," Marnie Grondahl, Fire Marshall for the Duluth Fire Department said.

"You can have one bedroom with the door closed and it looks like there is no fire in the house, and the bedroom next to it had the door open and there is smoke staining all over, heat damage," Grondahl said. "It's amazing what even a hollow door on a bedroom, how long that can keep the heat and smoke out of there."

Grondahl says sleeping with your doors closed will do more than just protect you from the smoke. Closed doors will also slow the progress of the fire and give you time to get yourself and your kids out.

"The closed door is really key to protecting them because they can't get out on their own," Grondahl said. "You are their only way out, and if you can't get there, a closed door will protect them." 

Avoiding the smoke is a critical part of your plan, but you still need to find a way out as quickly as possible. Grondahl says the best way to do that is to know your escape route before it happens. "Practice two ways out. Your main way is your door, and the second way is a window."

But not all windows are designed with fire escapes in mind. It's important to make sure every bedroom has an egress window, meaning they are large enough to escape from in case of a fire.

To find out what an egress window looks like we sat down with Heritage Window and Door General Manager Tony Wasbotten.

"This casement window, which cranks out, typically these are the easiest to meet the egress codes as far as the sizes go," Wasbotten said. "So when we crank this window open, a whole 90 degrees, what we need to meet that code is a minimum 20 inches wide, and then 5.7 square feet of clear opening in order to get out of the window."

Some basement windows don't meet egress codes, but by law, they need to be changed out if anyone is sleeping downstairs. So while you're checking your windows for safety, it's a good time for you and your family to rehearse your escape plan.

"It's really important that everybody plans an escape plan and the main reason people don't do it is everybody thinks, I will never have a fire," Grondahl said. "It won't happen to me.  But you need an escape plan and you need to practice it." 

When making that plan, remember every detail, including which window or door you will escape from.

  • Stay low to the floor and don't waste time looking around for anything to take with you.
  • Practice every step so if the unthinkable ever does happen, you will know exactly what to do.

"We recommend that everyone have a plan that they've put together as a family where they all know two ways out of each room, and they have a meeting place established," said Superior Fire Battalion Chief Howard Huber. 

So remember: Plan ahead. Plan Your Escape. Practice. Before it's too late.


Taylor Dayton

Copyright 2018 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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