Cape or not, be a hero and practice home fire escape

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Fire Prevention Week will be observed Oct. 6-12 this year, with the theme "Not Every Hero Wears a Cape."

The motto encourages ordinary people, even kids, to "Plan and Practice Your Escape."

The campaign works to educate people of all ages about the small but important actions they can take to keep themselves and those around them safe.

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) statistics show that on average, seven people died in a fire in a home per day during 2012 to 2016.

In a typical home fire, you might have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely, from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Escape planning and practice can help you make the most of the time you have, giving everyone enough time to get out.

Here's what we encourage readers to do:

• Pull everyone in your household together and make a plan. Know at least two ways out of every room.

• Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily. Have an outside meeting place that is a safe distance from the house.

• Practice your fire drill at least twice a year - once during the day and once at night.

• Practice using different ways out. Teach children how to escape on their own in case you are not able to help them.

• Practice closing doors behind you - this could slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.

• Remind children to stay out, and never go back inside for pets or toys.

In addition to your home practice, be aware wherever you go. No matter where you are (restaurant, movie theater, church, etc.), look for available exits. If the alarm system sounds, take it seriously and exit the building immediately.

Smoke alarms are your first warning to get out in case of fire. Smoke alarms should be on every level in your home and inside and outside each separate sleeping area.

Remember to change out your smoke alarms every 10 years, as sensors can begin to lose their sensitivity and will eventually fail.

A smoke alarm's age can be determined by looking on the back or side of the alarm, where the manufacturer date can be found.

If no date can be found, then it is most likely over 10 years old. Don't wait - check the date! And get a new alarm to replace the old one.

Cinda Seamon is the fire and life safety educator for the Town of Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue.

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