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Local Red Cross says most important thing you can do is practice your fire escape plan

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.--  With the deadly house fires that have been plaguing the Southeast these past few days, it's important to think about what you would do in that situation to protect your family. The American Red Cross said the single most costly disaster they respond to is house fires.

The best way to prepare for a house fire is to have a family meeting and detail your escape plan so everyone in the household knows what to do.

"Pick a date and time, and just go ahead and test the plan out, have a place outside the home that you're gonna meet, and everybody knows where that location is," said American Red Cross Disaster Program Manager Shirley Crutcher.

Crutcher said every home is different, so every plan is going to be different. That's why it's so important to prepare.

"Knowing about the windows, the exits, you know in a home, if you have an upstairs you know what's the safest place to exit if I can't go downstairs,"she said.

Crutcher says for homes with children, there are a few things you can do to make it easier for them.

"Go ahead and test that alarm, let them know what it sounds like, it may be that you test that at night and see if that's an alarm that's gonna wake them while they're in their sleep," she said.

Crutcher said the most important thing she can tell people is to practice, practice, practice.

"Just do it, do the plan, go through all the steps, put the information on the refrigerator so that they will know exactly what to do, and empower the kids," she adds.

It's also a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher in the house and know how to use it beforehand.

Crutcher also said the winter is the most deadly time for house fires because of the heating sources used. She said to make sure to keep an eye on your space heater and candles, and practice fire safety when using them.