The best family fire escape plan will win a prize and be featured during Fire Prevention Week.

Having a fire in your home is pretty much anyone’s worst nightmare and while it's something that will hopefully never happen, it's a really smart idea to have an escape plan ready. Going over this plan with your family and making sure everyone knows what to do should the worst case scenario happen is something that can save lives.

And the Arvada Fire Department wants to highlight this issue through a contest. The task? Create an escape plan!

The contest is open until July 24, and local families are encouraged to enter by emailing pio@arvadafire.com. Those who submit entries are asked to provide a photo of their escape plan and a photo of their family at the evacuation rendezvous spot. Families must be ready to demonstrate the plan, as well.

A winning plan will be selected on July 26. The prize for this contest is a gift basket from the Arvada Fire Department, as well as being featured on a banner that will be displayed at the fire station nearest to their home during Fire Prevention Week 2019 – Sunday, October 6, through Saturday, October 12.

A good fire escape plan will include a map of the home that clearly shows all doors and windows, so spend some time in each room of your home and make sure all windows and doors open and function properly. Also, check that your home has working smoke alarms by testing each alarm – this is a good way to introduce children to the sound of the alarm.

Pick a meeting place everyone will remember that is away from danger and have a fire drill so that everyone can practice the plan and become familiar with the procedure. Making sure house numbers are clearly visible from the street, as well as making sure everyone knows the phone number to the fire department, even little kids will remember 911. Even things like picking a specific neighbor to run to for help and to use a phone ahead of time can be instrumental in saving the lives of your family and pets in case of a fire.

The National Fire Prevention Association has lots of tips and advice on how to prevent and stay safe during a house fire, and even has example fire escape plans and guidelines on how to come up with the right plan for your family.

House fires are no joke and can happen to anyone at any time. I've witnessed three of my neighbors' homes burn down in the last 20 years, and in one case, was responsible for getting a neighbor’s entire family out of their home when a backyard grill got out of control and caught the home on fire. It was a very scary situation. That family did not have a fire escape plan, nor did they know the home was on fire, so by drawing from my own escape plan and experience, I was able to prevent loss of life, get everyone out in a matter of minutes, and get the fire department out to help before the home was completely lost. 

Not everyone is so lucky and being prepared for what can happen is truly the best way to ensure your family will be safe.

What do you think about this contest that Arvada Fire Department is sponsoring? Do you have a fire escape plan for your family? If not, this might be the perfect time to get one in place and make sure everyone knows what to do. Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.