Once the smoke alarm goes off, you and your family might only have a few minutes to get out of the house. It’s crucial to keep calm and that everyone know what to do. A good fire escape plan can save lives, make sure to get a fire safety inspection every know and then!
Prevention is the best policy. You want to do everything in your power to prevent a fire in your home. If you own a wood burning stove or fireplace, pellet stove, or other, it’s important to have your chimney and heating installation inspected and cleaned regularly. Have you recently moved into a new home? Contact a local professional if you have questions related to your heating system.
If you heat using electric heaters, always remember to verify whether anything is on or up against your heaters, especially before bed.
Install a carbon monoxide and several smoke alarms on each floor; one in each bedroom and outside bedroom areas. Test them regularly. Change the batteries every year, and the smoke alarms every ten years. Ideally, your smoke alarms should be connected; when one goes off, they all go off.
Create a Fire Escape Plan
Draw a map of your home. Include doors, windows, stairways, and any additional feature that can help in your escape, like the garage or porch roof.
There should be two exits from each room, especially the bedrooms. Make sure that all doors and windows open easily, and that nothing blocks their access.
Agree on a meeting place outside, at a safe distance from the house, where you can count heads and call the fire department.
Talk to every household member of the escape plan, and have everyone memorize the fire department’s phone number. Assign a family member to help infants, the elderly or people with mobility limitations get out of the house.
Have fire drills twice a year, both at night and during the day.
Prepare Your Children
Kids don’t always wake up when the fire alarm goes off. Test this when you do fire drills. If they don’t wake up, assign a family member to get them up in case of an emergency.
Practice your fire escape plan with your children. Help them to recognize the difference between the sound of a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide detector.
Teach your kids how to get out of the house without your help. Explain to them that in case of a fire, they must not hide; they have to stay calm, get out, and stay out.
Include your pets in the fire drills is another way of keeping them safe. Teach them how to react to the smoke alarm. When they’re calm, play a low volume recording of the fire alarm. Increase the volume gradually, and train them so they know how to react and where to go. Praise, treats and rewards will help you achieve your goal.
Remind your children not to worry about saving pets if there is a fire. Apply pet alert stickers in your doors and windows, so the firefighters know to look for your furry friend.
Having your pets wear glow in the dark collars is a good way to find them easily at night.
When practicing fire drills, practice using different ways to exit your home, pretend that some escape routes are blocked. If your house has two stories or more, have escape ladders near the windows. Learn how to use them by trying them out on the first floor with the kids, so they know how to use them.
Most fatalities are caused by smoke inhalation. Keep in mind to educate your children that when there’s smoke, you remain low while exiting the home.
Close doors behind you. It slows the spread of smoke, fire and heat, and gives you more time to escape. Test doors before opening them. If it’s hot to the touch, use another route.
If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll. Teach your kids how to do it.
A good fire escape plan is a first step towards keeping your family safe, but remember: prevention is the best policy, and practice makes perfect. Prevent, plan and practice, in order to keep your family alive and safe!