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Firefighters take prevention to the schools

By By Connie Nowlin Managing editor
National Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 6 through 12.
Locally, the Atmore Fire Department is also sponsoring fire prevention week. The emphasis inside the city limits is on being safe when lighting heaters and fireplaces for the first time this fall.
Chief Gerry McGhee also cautions those who are doing any outdoor burning to plan ahead.
"If you are doing outdoor burning, please don't burn on windy days, and have a means of putting the fire out if necessary," he said. He also suggests that an adult stay with the fire at all times, and residents learn and abide by the city ordinance.
Those outside the city limits may call the Division of Forestry at 672-3076 and get a burn permit.
This year's national theme, as designated by the National Fire Protection Association, is "Get Out! Stay Out!"
"Fire can grow and spread so quickly that you can have as little as two minutes to escape safely," said Amanda Calhoun, project manager for the Alabama Smoke Alarm Initiative at the Alabama Department of Public Health.
"Advance planning is essential."
This year's focus includes two simple but important life-saving lessons.
First, install smoke alarms and test them regularly. Nationally, 70 to 80 percent of people killed in home fires do not have working smoke alarms.
Most smoke alarms are inexpensive and can be purchased at hardware stores. McGhee suggested that this is a good time for residents to change the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. He said that if a resident is elderly or disabled, they may call the fire department and a member of the department will come by and change the batteries for them.
The following tips will need to be followed when using a smoke alarm:
* At least one smoke alarm is needed per every level of a home, including the basement.
* Place smoke alarms outside each sleeping area as well as inside bedrooms if you sleep with the doors closed.
* Test your alarm once per month and replace the battery yearly.
* Replace an alarm unit that is over 10 years old.
Second, develop and practice home fire drills. Only 25 percent of American families have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. Knowing and practicing your escape plan can reduce confusion, injury and death in a home fire. The following tips need to be followed when
developing and practicing an escape plan.
* Know two ways out of every room.
* Designate a safe meeting place outside of your home.
* Include the evacuation of young children, the elderly and any disabled family members in your plan.
* Hold home fire drills at least two times per year.
Help recognize fire safety week by checking your smoke alarms and by creating and practicing a home fire escape plan. For more information on fire safety, please visit the Alabama Department of Public Health's Web site at www.adph.org/injuryprevention.