Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as two minutes to escape safely once the alarm sounds.

In 2004, 3,925 Americans died in home fires. That’s more than 10 people a day. Tens of thousands more were injured. People can survive even major fires in their homes if they are alerted to the fire and get out quickly and stay out.

Your ability to get out depends on advance warning from smoke alarms, advance planning and a home fire escape plan that everyone in your family is familiar with and has practiced.

Fire escape planning tips:

• Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Households with children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. Also, mark the location of each smoke alarm. This is a great way to get children involved in fire safety in a non-threatening way.

• Make sure that you have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home.

• Everyone in the household must understand the escape plan. When you walk through your plan, check to make sure the escape routes are clear and doors and windows can be opened easily.

• Choose an outside meeting place (i.e. neighbor’s house, a light post, mailbox, or stop sign) a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they have escaped. Make sure to mark the location of the meeting place on your escape plan.

• If there are infants, older adults or family members with mobility limitations make sure that someone is assigned to assist them in the fire drill and in the event of an emergency. Assign a backup person too, in case the designee is not home during the emergency.

• Tell guests or visitors to your home about your family's fire escape plan. When staying overnight as a guest, ask the host about their escape plan. If they don’t have a plan in place, offer to help them make one. This is especially important when children are permitted to attend “sleepovers” at friends’ homes.

• Be fully prepared for a real fire: when a smoke alarm sounds, get out immediately.

• Practice your home fire escape plan twice a year, making the drill as realistic as possible.

• When you do your fire drill, everyone in the family should practice crawling low on their hands and knees, one to two feet above the ground. By keeping your head low, you'll be able to breathe the ‘good’ air that’s closer to the floor.

• Once you’re out, stay out! Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. If someone is missing, inform the fire department dispatcher when you call. Firefighters have the skills and equipment to perform rescues.

Should you have any questions regarding fire escape planning, the installation’s fire prevention program or would like to schedule a tour, contact Fort Lee’s Fire Prevention Office at (804) 734-6597. Don’t just think fire safety during Fire Prevention Week, Think fire safety all yearlong.