SACRAMENTO, Calif. — This is National Fire Prevention Week. Every year for nearly a century, fire safety experts have taken this week in October to remind people about life-saving steps you should take at home to keep your family safe.

Last month, a Midtown, Sacramento home caught on fire with McKenzie Chapman inside!

"I was 20 minutes into my nap when I heard our smoke alarm going off in the house,” she told ABC10.

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Fortunately, Chapman wasn't injured in the fire, though she and her roommate became displaced.

"In one hand, yeah, we lost a lot, but in another hand, we're like-- at least we're still here," Chapman said.

A working smoke alarm alerted her to danger, something Metro Fire’s Capt. Chris Vestal said is so simple – yet so important.

"Most of the times when we have a fatal fire, we found that there was not a working smoke alarm, and that's very tragic because it's so simple,” Vestal said. “They're relatively cheap but they can make such a big difference and save your life and limit your loss."

One key reminder during national fire prevention week is to regularly check your smoke alarms.

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"We recommend checking smoke detectors and smoke alarm batteries every six months. Any time we change our clocks, check your batteries,” Vestal said. “But also, if you have a seven or a 10-year smoke alarm, smoke detector, those don’t have batteries that you can change, but you still need to test them. Push the button on them, make sure they work, and then check the date every six months just to make sure that they're not expiring."

But a working smoke detector is only half the battle. Once you're alerted to the fire, you and your family need to have an exit strategy.

"Having a good escape plan is quite simple as well,” Vestal said. “If you have two ways out of your home, whether it’s windows or doors, that’ll give you an option if one of those is blocked, to use the other one. That’s why we recommend that you practice and you plan those with your family and then you have a safe meeting place outside where you can all gather, and then you’ll be able to tell us if somebody hasn’t met you, you think that they’re still inside, and where they might be, so that we can go in and affect the rescue."

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Vestal also recommends shutting your door when you sleep. If a fire starts in the middle of the night, not only will a closed door help stop the spread of flames into your bedroom, but it will also help block the poisonous carbon monoxide given off by the fire. Many people who die in fires, he said, die in their sleep, overcome by the fumes. More information on that is HERE.

As the weather gets cold, Vestal also recommends getting a professional to come out and inspect and clean your heater and chimney, to make sure nothing that has been building up throughout the year – including dust – will ignite when it’s fired up for the first time this season.

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