May 19, 2010 10:26 PM by David Ortiviz

Tips to survive a house fire

Fire, Fire, Get out! The words you never hope to have to hear or say--but if you were caught in a fire could you survive? "Tragically about 80% of the fire deaths in this country happen in a person's home," said Pueblo Fire Chief Chris Riley.

The good news is a study by the National Fire Protection Association shows Colorado ranks near the top when it comes to fire safety. Our state has the second lowest number of deaths from accidental fires in the entire country. Only Hawaii has a lower rate.

The Pueblo Fire Department says a big part of the equation, is education. First of all every second counts. The fire department says on average a fire can double in size every 30 seconds. Their advice--don't panic, stay calm and look for the nearest exit. Since both heat and smoke rise to the ceiling, firefighters say the first thing you want to do is get low to the ground, that way you're breathing in the cleanest air. Crawl on your hands and knees as you look for the nearest exit.

"When you get to your first opportunity to exit, you don't want to just open a door, you want to check it first, so using the back of your hand, you would start low and feel the temperature of the door as you come up," said Woody Percival, with the Pueblo Fire Department. If the door isn't hot, Percival says open it slowly. "I still want to be careful when I open it to check first," said Percival. You never want to put yourself in a more dangerous situation.

If there is no way out, firefighters say try to hang a sheet out a window--that signifies as a distress signal. "When we arrive on scene, if we were to see a sheet or blanket sticking out of a window in a room, we're going to assume that we have something special in that room and do our rescue efforts there first," said Percival.

To avoid that situation in the first place--firefighters stress prevention. Practice fire drills with your family often and keep working fire detectors on every level of your home.

Firefighters say most house fires are caused from unsafe cooking, careless smoking, kids playing with lighters or matches and unattended candles.

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