Local fire department: Use this extra time at home to practice safety drills

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During the COVID-19 crisis, a local fire department is encouraging families to take advantage of the extra time at home.

Waco firefighter Zach Gonzalez goes over his family's emergency escape plan while practicing a fire drill Thursday during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Waco Fire Department has launched a campaign called "Let's Stay Safe," promoting the practice of safety procedures as a way to take advantage of the excess time at home.

"Right now, considering certain circumstances, everybody is at home, so while they're at home, it's a good time to communicate, come together, and figure out what to do whenever there is a fire or emergency," said Zach Gonzalez, a four-year fireman for WFD.

Fire officials say right now is the perfect time to practice a fire drill.

"Fire drills are important because you can never be too safe, especially when it comes to family, and so knowing what to do and where to go during a fire and emergency is very important," said Gonzalez.

To set up and practice a fire drill per Waco Fire recommendations:

-Evaluate your living situation and try to make the best plan you can for escaping in an emergency.
-A plan should include all members of your family; every household member of age and ability should know and practice evacuating the home.
-This consists of knowing 2 WAYS OUT and helping those who require assistance.
-Start with the lights on and go slow, then turn the lights out and speed it up, maintaining safety for everyone.
-Once everyone is outside, you need to stress the practice of going to a MEETING PLACE.
-The meeting place needs to be predetermined and all family members need to know the location (examples: a tree, a mailbox, etc.)
-Once all family members are together, pretend to call 911 (while practicing, celebrate finishing the drill to encourage children to participate in the potentially life-saving behavior).
-Remember, practice makes perfect!

Fire officials also recommend taking this extra home-time to check smoke alarms; they should be checked once a month and have the batteries changed out twice a year.