WASHINGTON – An escape plan helped save a mother and her daughter from a house fire that killed four other family members in Glenarden this week.
Fire officials say their experience is a reminder of how important it is for families to develop evacuation plans and to discuss fire safety with children.
Daijah Price, 11, died late Friday night at Children’s National Medical Center. Her father, Darrell Terrance Price Jr., 36, and sisters Tania Monae Jeanita, 8, and Patrice, 4, also died in the fire.
But her 33-year-old mother and sister, 8, escaped the blaze. They were able to jump to safety from a second floor window of the home.
Officials have not released the names of the survivors.
The girl who survived told Prince George’s County Firefighter Shawn Croissette that her family had a fire escape plan that they developed after firefighters visited her elementary school.
“When talking with her, she told me that she got out of the house and waited by the neighbor’s yard,” writes Croissette on the Prince George’s County Fire blog.
Mark Brady, Prince George’s County Fire and EMS spokesman, says the escape plan saved their lives. He says it’s important for every family to create one. A plan should include two exit options from every room and a designated spot outside where everyone can meet.
Resources for escape planning and smoke alarm maintenance:
He recommends introducing fire education to children around 5 years old.
“It’s always uneasy to discuss real-life situations with children. But it’s so critically important that you do it,” Brady says. “It’s better to have them educated and aware of the dangers so they can understand why they need to get out and do so quickly and safely.”
But an evacuation plan only works if the occupants know the home is on fire. Without a working smoke alarm, Brady says there may not be enough time to get out of a burning building.
“When that smoke alarm goes off, you only have a precious few seconds, maybe a minute or so, to get out safely,” Brady says. The evacuation plan should be practiced twice per year and smoke detectors should be tested once per month.
Prince George’s County firefighters can work with residents to develop evacuation plans and install free smoke alarms. Call the Community Outreach Office at 301-883-5250 or the Safety First program 301-864-SAFE (7233) to have a firefighter evaluate your home.