This week was National Fire Prevention Week, a week dedicated to educating the public about how to prevent and survive fires.

South Walton Fire District was busy during the week presenting fire prevention programs at more than 12 locations in South Walton, including schools, daycare facilities, home-school groups, and giving tours of their stations.

"The purpose of our fire-prevention programs is to reduce or eliminate fire fatalities," said SWFD Fire Marshal Sammy Sanchez. "This is the reason we conduct these programs. We firmly believe that introducing children to fire safety education is a lesson they carry with them throughout their lives, and at the end of the day, lives is what we are trying to protect."

The last fire fatality the SWFD saw was in early 2015.

In a typical home fire those in the home may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. That's why home escape planning is critical. Planning ensures that everyone in the home knows how to use the small window of time wisely.

This year's Fire Prevention Week theme was "Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!" That theme was used to educate the public about the critical importance of developing a home escape plan and practicing it.

The National Fire Protection Association recommends developing and practicing a home-escape plan. A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. It also includes two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place that is a safe distance from the home. Other tips include:

• Draw a map of the home, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.

• Practice a home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.

• Teach children how to escape on their own in case an adult can't help them.

• Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.

• When leaving the home, close doors as this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.

• Once outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.

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