Colorado Fire Departments are encouraging families to create fire-escape plans in their homes.
September is National Preparedness Month and fire officials don't want families to wait until something happens or it's too late.
South Metro's Community Risk Reduction Specialist, Einar Jensen, found that most families don't have a home-escape plan.
“I think there’s a couple of reasons why we don’t have home escape plans – collectively in our country – one is this idea that ‘it won’t happen to me’ and we call that the paradox of fire in America," said Jensen.
"When we start factoring in the ‘it will never happen to me’ philosophy then we as Americans, especially, get complacent about fire safety," said Jensen. "Incidences like what happened over in West Metros district shows that there can be serious consequences for that.”
On Thursday, West Metro Fire Department rescued a child from a burning home in Lakewood. Firefighters found the 5-year-old child hiding in an upstairs closet.
“We do have kids hide sometimes – under beds and in closets," said Jensen. "We have adults do that as well. They stay inside the burning house because they’re not sure what to do and we have other people who aren’t able to escape on their own.”
Fire can grow really quickly. Jensen says once a fire starts, individuals might have two or three minutes to escape safely.
“If we understood that house fire was a possibility – we would have home escape plans, we would have residential sprinklers and we would make sure that all of our smoke alarms are fully functional all the time," said Jensen.
Making a fire-escape plan can mean the difference between life and death. Jensen says just last week 32 people died in the US in house fires.
“It’s time to stop it - as a community. To step up and start creating these plans and doing these drills so that when the fire alarm activates – we all know where to go," said Jensen "We all know that if there’s smoke in the room that it’s going to be up towards the ceiling because hot air rises initially and then we need to get low and go."
To make a fire-escape plan:
1) Draw a bird-eye-view picture of your house - showing walls, doors and windows
2) Draw arrows that show two ways out of the house
3) Make sure the arrows lead to a meet-up place, somewhere in front of the house
South Metro Fire Department is even using ice-cream incentives. If families show they not only have a home-escape plan, but they have also practiced a fire drill at home -- the department will give cold stone ice-cream coupons to kids 12 and under.
“It’s that economic incentive to try and do the right thing," said Jensen. "I like to call it the “Fire Safety Ala-mode” but we don’t have enough families taking advantage of that and it has to be something deeper psychologically.”
Jensen says that spending 10 minutes a month on a fire-safety plan like this can make a huge difference.
“We have to remember that fire can kills and it doesn’t matter who we voted for, what color our shoes are, what color our skin is – fire will kill us.”