No one wants to think of what would happen if they had a house fire. It’s a very scary thought. But it’s so important that your entire family knows exactly what to do and where to go if the smoke alarm goes off or the air smells like smoke. Having a home fire escape plan can help everyone get out of the home as quickly and safely as possible. We’ve put together a list of tips for creating a home fire escape plan.
How to create a home fire escape plan.
1. Find two escape routes from each room in the house.
If there’s a fire, the most obvious way out of a room could be unsafe because of smoke, flames, or heat. That’s why you need a Plan B to get out of any room and out of the house. You can get your family to help you out and come up with your escape routes together.
2. Go over fire safety with your family.
Set aside some time to go over some basic fire safety with your family. Make sure to go over the following:
- Stop, drop, and roll if clothing is on fire.
- How to call 911.
- How to use the back of the hand to feel a doorknob, the top of the door, and the space at the frame of the door – and then use the second exit if the door is hot.
- If the door is cool, open it slowly as you brace yourself against it.
- How to crawl on the ground while covering your mouth if you have to pass under smoke.
- How to properly store flammable objects or chemicals.
- Space heater safety.
- Why it’s important not to waste time gathering belongings.
- Teach children never to touch matches or lighters. (And don’t forget to childproof your home.)
- How to prevent electrical fires by taking care with electrical cords, outlets, and circuits.
3. Have a meeting spot for your family.
As you’re creating a home fire escape plan, plan a good spot for your family to meet after getting out of the house. Everyone needs to know where to go, and it needs to be a safe spot that’s far enough away from the house. Also, decide which neighbor’s house you’re going to go to so you can call 911.
4. Teach children what to do if the smoke alarm goes off.
Kids might get really scared if they hear the smoke detector or smell smoke, and their instinct could be to hide. Be sure to explain to your children that they need to get out of the house if there is a fire instead of hiding. Of course, you don’t want to scare them, but they need to understand how important it is to follow the fire escape plan.
5. Do a “fire drill.”
Put your fire escape plan to the test after you’ve created your plan and gone over it with your entire family. Do a “fire drill” and give your family two minutes to “escape” from the home and get to the meeting place.
You also might want to consider having everyone practice getting out of the house with their eyes closed (but please – be very careful!) It’s probable that getting out of a burning house will involve darkness and smoke. Also, take some time to practice crawling on the ground to avoid heavy smoke overhead.
6. Keep the escape routes clear.
It’s important that the way out of the house doesn’t involve doing an obstacle course. By tidying the house and keeping the floor clear, you make it easier to make a quick escape. You should also check your windows to make sure they open quickly. If there are any stubborn windows, have them fixed.
Another thought – if you have child safety gates, latches, or window bars, be sure that there are quick release features.
7. Check the smoke detectors.
Check and see how many smoke detectors you have and where they are. It’s crucial that there are enough smoke detectors and that there’s one located outside each bedroom. Test the smoke detectors once a month and change the batteries at least once a year. (Daylight Saving Time is a great time to do this because it’ll be easy to remember the last time you changed the batteries.)
If you have a house fire, there is not a lot of time to act and escape from the home. And that’s why creating a fire escape plan is so essential – having a plan makes it much easier to act quickly and without hesitation. Practice your plan and be sure to coach your kids on what to do. Make fire safety a thing in your household.
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