\u201cIf you have a fire at home you may\u00a0have less than three minutes after the alarm sounds to get out safely. Knowing what to do can mean the difference between life and death,\u201d says State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. The theme of this year\u2019s Fire Prevention Week campaign, Every Second Counts \u2013 Plan Two Ways Out!\u201d reminds us of the importance of planning and practicing a home escape plan. Fire Prevention Week is October 8-14, 2017.\n\n\u201cTime and again, I\u2019ve seen the life-saving impact of having a home escape plan, when firefighters arrive at a fire and see the family outside at their meeting place. Most fatal fires occur in the home, and I\u2019ve seen the tragedy that can result when people don\u2019t get out,\u201d said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. \u201cThat\u2019s why we\u2019re making a concerted effort to educate Massachusetts residents about the importance of planning and practicing a home escape plan that everyone knows.\u201d\n\n\u201cChildren practice fire drills in school at least four times each year. Families should also have home fire drills so they can practice their home escape plans,\u201d said Ostroskey.\n\nProtect Your Home and Family with Home Escape Planning\n\nA home escape plan includes two ways out of every room, which could be a window or door, a route to exits and a meeting place outside and away from the house. A neighbor\u2019s porch, a tree or a mailbox near the house would be good meeting places. In addition to a home escape plan, homes must have working smoke alarms. \u201cWhen creating your family home escape plan, it would be a great time to check that all smoke alarms are less than ten years old, and are working,\u201d Ostroskey said. \u201cMost smoke alarms last about ten years, so it\u2019s important to replace them when they expire.\u201d When replacing battery-operated alarms, choose smoke alarms with a 10-year sealed battery and a hush button feature that never needs replacing until the entire alarm does. Smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and alkaline batteries should be replaced at least once a year or when the alarm begins to chirp, signaling the battery is running low.\n\nHow to Develop a Home Escape Plan\n\nThe Department of Fire Services offer these tips on creating a home escape plan:\n\nHave a family planning session. Draw a map of your home, identifying two ways out of every room.\n\tInclude the routes out of each room.\n\tTeach the route and meeting place to everyone.\n\tPractice! Hold a fire drill during the day and one at night.\n\tMake sure your house number is visible from the road so the fire department can locate your home.\nEscape Plans not Just for Families\n\n\u201cBusinesses should also review emergency plans and evacuation routes with employees during Fire Prevention Week,\u201d reminds Ostroskey. \u201cNo matter where you are \u2013 at work or at play, you need to know what to do in case of fire, and you need to know how to get out of any building.\u201d With so little time to leave a building in a fire, preparation and practice is the best way to remember the plan. \u201cAnd once out, stay out,\u201d explained Marshal Ostroskey. \u201cNever go back into the home, or workplace even if it looks safe. Things can be replaced. You cannot be replaced.\u201d\n\nFor additional information and a chart to use to create a home escape plan visit www.mass.gov/dfs and type in home escape plans in the search bar.