ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Brittany Michaud's injuries have healed, but her scars are constant reminders of her brush with death on New Year's Eve.
She fell asleep while cooking and her home caught on fire.
No working smoke detectors inside meant no warning. But thankfully, she did wake up to find her place full of smoke.
"I was freaking out. I was like well, what am I going to do? What am I going to do?" Michaud recalled. "I was coughing, screaming, and I said just get out of there, so I went through the window."
That decision likely saved her life. Having a fire plan can save yours.
"That's when people lose their lives, when they have to think about what to do, not react to the situation as planned," warned Albany Fire Chief James Carswell.
So, WALB News 10 teamed up with the Albany Fire Department to demonstrate the challenges of getting out alive.
Experts estimate that a person has just two minutes to get out after a fire starts.
"Plan your escape routes," advised Carswell. "We call it EDITH, which is Exit Drill In The Home. And you need to have a family discussion about what those options are."
We tested a plan inside the fire department's Fire Safety House.
"The first thing you need to do is roll out of bed, not sit up in bed. You never want to stand up into a fire because the heat rises and it starts banking down," said Chief Carswell.
During a simulation, reporter Tara Herrschaft crawled through a room in a building full of smoke. Her task was to locate a doll, made similar to finding a baby during a fire.
Once located, she had to make her way out of the building while on her hands and knees as quickly as possible.
Some of the escape routes were not accessible.
"Feel the door, if you feel heat then go out your secondary escape. But the key is always have two ways [out]," said Chief Carswell.
Firefighters say once an escape plan is made, stick to it and stay outside once you are there.
"Most people who go back into a fire never get back out the second time. And so the key is get out as quickly as you can," said Carswell. "Have a designated meeting place. Once there, then wait for our response and then we'll take it from there."
Experts say practicing an escape route is a must.