PIERRE — South Dakota’s Fire Marshal encourages families to celebrate this year’s Fire Prevention Week by making and practicing an escape plan.

Fire Prevention Week nationally and in South Dakota started Sunday, Oct. 6, and runs through Saturday, Oct. 12. This year’s theme is “Not Every Hero Wears A Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape.”

“Knowing how to escape a burning home is one of the most important things a family can talk about; the same goes for businesses,” said State Fire Marshal Paul Merriman. “Not only should you have a plan, you need to practice it as well.”

Merriman says individuals and families should make sure they have two ways out of their home in case of fire. He says people need to remember that fires can start anywhere in the home due to an electrical problem or another issue.

“Families should hold fire drills in their homes at least twice a year; once during the day and another time at night,” Merriman says. “It is important that everyone, especially children, know how to get out of a burning structure using more than one exit and once they are out of the house, there should be a planned meeting place where everyone from the home can gather.”

Another emphasis during the week will be the use of smoke alarms. Merriman says the importance of smoke alarms can’t be stressed enough.

“We have seen too many house fires where there were no smoke alarms present or the alarms in the homes were not properly working,” he says. “Smoke alarms can save lives. But they do no good when not properly maintained.”

Smoke alarm messages for this week include:

• Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.

• Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.

• Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of the smoke alarm and understands what to do when they hear it.

• If the smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside. Go to your outside meeting place.

• Call the fire department from outside the home.

For more on this year’s theme, click onto www.firepreventionweek.org.

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