A Home Fire Escape Plan – Get the Kids Involved

Fire escape signFires top the list of preventable deaths that occur in the home. Your family’s safety in the midst of a fire comes down simply to planning and communication. Get your kids involved in the family’s home fire escape plan. Understanding and cooperation from all family members will be crucial to the success of your plan and safety of your family.

Map Fire Escape Routes

In creating your family’s fire escape plan, first map out your home on paper. Ask your children to help you sketch out the floor plan. Talk with them about the quickest escape methods from your home, and clearly mark all exits on your plan. Walk through varying scenarios—if a fire were to start in the kitchen, the exit plan is to head through the front foyer. If a fire burns in the garage, everyone heads through the dining room out the back door. A sound plan includes two escape routes for each room–through door and window. Without making your plan too complicated, you need to account for various fire situations. Pose an example and quiz your children regarding which exit they would choose. Revisit this plan with your entire family annually, but perhaps more often if you have young children. Frequent reinforcement will help them remember the plan and act confidently in emergency situations. Post the plan where everyone can see it.

Conduct Drills with your Family

Practicing your plan will ease a great deal of anxiety if you’re faced with an actual emergency. Whenever possible, encourage the buddy system for safe exit, especially for any family members with special needs. Determine a meeting place outside, across the street in front of your home. Getting your family safely outside the home is a priority over contacting the Fire Department. Once you’re outside, it’s safe to make the call. Make arrangements for young children to stay with a trusted neighbor out of harm’s way once everyone has been evacuated from the home and accounted for.

Communicate to your children that they have an important job in the midst of a fire—to get themselves out of the house quickly and to the safe zone across the street. Children generally respond favorably when given important responsibilities, but conducting drills will help ease any uncertainty they may have. Practice your drills at different times of the day until your communication is clear and evacuation happens quickly. Get started on your escape plan now. A template can be downloaded from the Home Safety Council by logging onto their website.

Practicing Fire Safety in the Home

There are a number of safety precautions you can take in your home to help avoid fires from starting in the first place. Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Verify you have enough smoke alarms installed in your home. Alarms should be located in each sleeping area, just outside the sleeping area (one in the hallway, for example) and at least one more on every level of the home.
  • Test all of your smoke alarms monthly to ensure they’re in working order.
  • If you have a multiple-story home, consider purchasing fire escape ladders for upstairs rooms.
  • Remain in the kitchen anytime you’re cooking, and keep children away from the stove.
  • Portable space heaters should always be turned off and unplugged when not in use and kept 2-3 feet away from fabrics or access by people and pets.
  • Have your chimney inspected every couple of years. Check if yourself often to make sure it’s clean of standing ashes and free of obstacles such as birds’ nests.
  • If you can’t remember the last time your furnace was serviced professionally, schedule an appointment before the next cold season rolls around.
  • Gasoline containers and propane tanks should be stored outside of your home.
  • Ensure electrical cords in good condition, without frays or exposed wires.
  • Keep all outdoor exits of your home free of clutter and obstacles.
  • Post a list of emergency phone numbers, including the Fire Department, in a prominent place that’s known by all family members.
  • If you live in a multi-unit building, contact the facility management office for information on your building’s fire safety plan.

Proper planning, practice and communication can help keep everyone more calm in a frightening situation and can save your life or that of someone you love. Take steps now to prepare your family. Contact your local Fire Department for more information on home fire escape planning.

Woodard Cleaning & Restoration was founded in 1946, and is located in St. Louis, Missouri. With more than 65 years of experience, Woodard is proud to serve as a preferred provider of water, fire, and smoke restoration services for residential, commercial, and institutional facilities. For more information, visit our contact page, or call 314-227-3930.

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