DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - Alabama ranks high on a list we really don't want to be on, "We see about 25,000 fire deaths each year across the nation. Unfortunately over the last several years, Alabama has been in the top 5," said Dothan Fire Chief Chris Etheredge.
The reason we rank so high isn't clear, but Dothan Fire along with departments across the state and nation are driving home the message of fire safety this week. It's part of Fire Prevention Week.
"Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out" is this year's theme.
"Every year, the National Fire Protection Association has a different theme. It's to focus on what we've seen over the last year is killers in our community," said Etheredge.
Time isn't on your side if you're trapped in a burning home.
"Homes aren't built like they used to be. You don't have 7 to 10 minutes to get out. You have 2 to 3 minutes," said Etheredge.
With the time dangerously ticking as flames consume a building, it's important you know how to get to safety.
"Know two ways out of each room. Typically we all plan to leave a room like we came in - through the door. However if that fire is in the hallway in the middle of the night, how are you going to get out your bedroom?" said Etheredge.
In addition to having a plan, Etheredge stresses the importance of practicing.
"Many of us think, 'It's not going to happen to me.' National surveys show roughly 71 percent of households in the U.S. have a home fire escape plan. Less than 50 percent ever practice it," said Etheredge.
This week, members of the fire department are going from school to school talking to students about creating plans and practicing them. The fire department considers these young students one of their most valuable resources in getting information out.
"We get better results by talking to the children and have them go home and talk to the parents, 'Hey mom and dad do we have an exit plan? Where do I go if there is a fire?' We seem to get better turnout and return when talking to the children," said Dothan Fire Captain Jeffery Ward.
If you need a smoke detector installed in your home, you can contact the Dothan Fire Department and they will install detectors for free.