When is the last time you talked to your family about what to do if a fire broke out in your home?
Even if you have smoke alarms in place, it is vital that you have an escape plan established and that you discuss it, even practice it, especially with your children.
In the event of a fire, once a smoke alarm sounds, there may be as little as two minutes during which everyone has time to evacuate safely. If a plan has never been made and practiced, you are leaving everyone’s safety up to chance and hoping that everyone will be able to think and act clearly and quickly despite the shock of fire.
Don’t leave your family’s safety to chance. This year, use Fire Prevention Week to create and practice a home fire escape plan to protect your family from the possibility of a fire.
6 Steps for Creating an Effective Fire Escape Plan
Especially where children are concerned, you want to create a thorough and explicit fire escape plan. Follow these simple steps to create one for your family today:
- Walk your home to identify all possible exits, including windows.
- Draw a floor plan of your home, including the exterior yard, that marks every exit, escape route, smoke alarm, and meeting place. Post the plan in your house.
- Identify at least two exits from every room (including windows).
- As you walk through and make your plan, take the time to clear all obstacles away from exits and escape routes and make sure all doors and windows open easily.
- Choose a place outside for everyone to meet that is a safe distance from the house but within easy view (a mailbox, neighbor’s house, light post, etc.).
- If there are infants, elderly, or individuals with disabilities that would need assistance, assign who will help them in an emergency and during fire drills.
Creating a plan should be fairly easy and shouldn’t take too long, but it is only one part of having an effective escape plan that ensures everyone’s safety. Before you try your plan, there are a few things you need to do first.
8 Things Before Enacting Your New Plan
Having a plan will only help you so much if some other things aren’t in order and if certain principles aren’t understood. Here are a few things you need to check on and teach before your escape plan will be effective:
- Check that all of your smoke alarms are working and correctly placed – one in each bedroom, outside of every sleeping area, and on each floor.
- Check that your house address numbers are easily visible from the street.
- Teach family members the first responder’s emergency number, which is 911 in the United States.
- Make sure all family members know how to unlock and open all windows and doors.
- Teach your family members to identify and use the safest escape route during a fire – the way that has the least amount of heat and smoke.
- Instruct family members about smoke toxicity and how to evacuate underneath the smoke by crouching or crawling.
- If it is a two-story or more house, ensure that there are escape ladders or some safe method of exit from each window.
- Instruct everyone that no one should re-enter the home once they have escaped, but should head straight to the agreed-upon meeting place and call for help.
Once you have taken these steps, your plan should be effective.
Practice Makes Perfect
Finally, once you have crafted an escape plan and checked on the above, review the plan with your family and practice it.
Ideally, you should review and practice your escape plan at least twice a year and should even do a full fire drill at least once or twice a year as well. If you have young children, be sure to give them a few practice rounds before doing a surprise drill, and perhaps warn them before doing a drill in the night. The goal is not to frighten your kids, but to help them practice and feel confident about what they need to do.
Practicing will allow everyone to become familiar with what the alarms sound like when they go off and give them confidence about what to do that can help steady them in the event of the real thing. Furthermore, a middle of the night drill will give you the chance to see if anyone in your household does not wake to the alarm, in which case you will need to assign someone to that person.
Help Your Family Be Prepared this Fire Prevention Week
The simple act of making, reviewing, and practicing a home fire escape plan even just twice a year can be the difference between life and death in a fire emergency.
Especially where young children or otherwise dependent individuals are concerned, having a plan means preventing confusion and indecision that could cost you devastating moments and allowing you to act quickly to get everyone out safely.
If you would like to take additional steps to prevent a fire in your home, such as having working fire extinguishers and the correct number and placement of smoke alarms, the team at Koorsen Fire & Security would be happy to help. Check their website for products and services or give them a call today to help ensure the safety of your home.