Get out alive: House fire survival tips you need to know - KCTV5

Get out alive: House fire survival tips you need to know

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OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -

Fires double in size every minute, and when it comes to getting out, every second counts.

Having a plan can save your life, which is why KCTV5 News teamed up with the Overland Park Fire Department to show what it takes to get out alive.

On average, someone only has three minutes to escape a fire.

"It's smoke that kills most people in a fire. That smoke is very hot, it is very dark, and it is full of all kinds of poisons," said Tricia Roberts, who is a trainer with the Overland Park Fire Department.

First, make sure you have a working smoke detector. Then, map out a plan with two ways out of every room.

"You want to make sure children can open the window that you're telling them to go to," Roberts said.

Emergency escape ladders help get you to safety through a second-story window. You can purchase one at any hardware store. They range in price from $35 to $150.

Firefighters recommend having drills with your family at least twice a year - one in the daytime when everyone is awake and one at night when everyone is sleeping.

"So that you know who's going to wake up and who's not," Roberts said. "A lot of children will not wake up easily to the sound of a smoke alarm. So parents need to know that ahead of time."

Studies show traditional smoke detectors cannot readily awake a sleeping child, due to their very deep sleeping patterns. There are voice programmable smoke detectors on the market, which allows a parent to record an alert in their own voice.

Roberts and KCTV5's Erika Tallan put their plan to the test.

"If you are sleeping at night and you hear your smoke alarm go off, make sure you get low to the ground. Smoke will rise up to the ceiling, that's why we say, get down low. The air is cleaner and cooler, you can see better," Roberts said.

She said the best thing to do is crawl to your exit. 

If it's too dark, and you can't find your way, find a wall and follow it. Eventually, you'll come to a door. Before you open it, feel the door with the back of your hand. If it's hot, head to your alternate route. If it's not hot, continue on out.

"When you get to the stairs you're going to go feet first - scoot down on your bottom," Roberts said.

To see you just how critical it is to be prepared, the Overland Park Fire Department staged a fire, using theatrical smoke to fog up the room.

In minutes, the room became a murky haze, and, as expected, the smoke alarm began to sound.

Tallan had to make it out of the building through the smoke and darkness.

"Now you really can't see much. If I had not been practicing this, I would really be struggling right now," she said 

With the practice, it took less than two minutes to make it out. Once you're out, stay out, and head to your meeting place to call 911.

"Make sure your family has the same meeting place," Roberts said. "You don't want adults going to one meeting place and kids going to another and there being confusion thinking someone is still inside."

Firefighters say you show test your smoke detector every month, change its battery every year and replace the smoke detector every ten years.

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