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Fire safety: Importance of a fire escape plan

The Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department says it's important for people to have a fire safety plan in place.

GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- The Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department says the winter months are their busiest time for house fires.

They also say that it's important for families to have a plan in place in case a fire breaks out inside their home.

Lieutenant Kyle Clute says it's important for families to not only have a plan in place for getting out of their home, but also to practice that plan.

He says all families should have a safe meeting place as well.

For parents like Gus Batsikouras, having a plan in place for escaping a house fire has always been a priority.

"As a father my responsibility was to keep the family safe, making sure the house was safe for them and do everything that you need to do to prepare," said Batsikouras.

His kids are 18 and 21 years old now, but he says he's discussed a fire safety plan with them ever since they were in kindergarten.

"'Don't ever go back in the house' that's what's I always told them, cause if you get out first keep going, and we'll come after you if we're not there. But always go to the neighbor's house and call 911 as quickly as possible," said Batsikouras.

Other parents like Heather Tyler say they don't talk about what to do often enough, but hearing about fires like the one in White Pigeon serve as a reminder about why a plan is important.

"When there's casualties that's scary and it makes you, it's little wake up calls," said Tyler.

Clute says only about 50 percent of people have plans in place for escaping from a house fire and that he wishes more people did to help prevent tragedies.

"So firefighters are gonna get on scene and we wanna meet everybody at the mailbox or your safe meeting place, the big tree in the yard. We want you to tell us everybody's out, unfortunately that doesn't always happen," said Clute.

Batsikouras says he even talks to house guests about what to do if a fire breaks out and that it's important to have a plan in place if you don't already have one.

"You always gotta know what's around you always. You gotta be alert cause anything can happen at any given moment. You just gotta prepare yourself for it," said Batsikouras.

With the holidays upon us, Clute says it's important to make sure that if you have a real tree, you water it enough.

He also says it's important not to have Christmas trees blocking pathways to exits.

According to Clute, having a Carbon Monoxide detector is also important as that's known as the silent killer.

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