Fire Escape Plan
Creating a fire escape plan is not a simple task. I will admit that it isn't something I relished doing for my own family because I knew it would take time and effort. However, it is something that could mean the difference between life and death, so it is essential for every family to do.
If you want to make the process a little easier, the tips on this page will help. There are also a few items as you scroll down which will provide some extra help (like a video to show you how to use a fire extinguisher) and some resources (such as a printable grid for making your own home fire escape floorplan). I really hope this helps make your personal fire escape planning go faster.
Planning is the key. You aren't going to be able to make anything work well if you don't plan it out in advance.
Your Fire Escape Floorplan
Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes.
Draw a floor plan of your home and show the escape routes for each room on a sheet of paper. If you have a place in your home where you can leave this map hanging up, that is a great reminder for everyone. One place would be on the fridge. Another place would be by a calendar.
Print this off to draw your floorplan here: Fire Escape Plan
Fire Escape Details
Make sure all escape routes are clear of clothes and toys.
Choose an outside meeting place to get together if a fire were to happen, such as a neighbor's front yard.
Make sure everyone knows emergency phone numbers: 9-1-1 and another emergency contact number, such as grandma's house or a close family friend.
Practice your fire escape plan
Practice instills confidence.
Show children how to get out of their room. Do this physically, by walking through the process with them and then also do it using pictures. Show them how to get out two different ways.
Practice different possible fire situations at different times. The more you practice, the better you will be able to handle a real situation if and when it occurs.
When practicing the fire escape plan, show children, even young children, how to cover their nose and mouth to reduce smoke inhalation.
If you have older children, have them practice touching doors to see if they are hot or going to their door or window to escape - basically doing everything according to your escape plan.
Make sure your children can escape without your help. It is scary to think that they might have to do this, but if they have practiced this and need to do it in an emergency, they will be physically and mentally prepared to do so.
Practing Fire Safety at Home
Make sure your home has working smoke alarms. Test them twice each year.
Have a Kidde Multi-Purpose Fire Extinguisher on each floor of your home and make sure every responsible family member knows how to use it.
Here is how to use an ABC fire extinguisher:
Go to the street and find out if your house number is visible from the street. If it isn't, do something about it. If the fire department can't locate your house easily, they won't know how to find you in the event of an emergency.
Do all of your windows open easily? If they stick or are painted shut, they won't do anyone any good as an escape route in an actual emergency.
If windows or doors in your home have security bars, make sure that they have emergency release devices installed on the inside for quick release in an emergency.
If you or anyone in your home has special needs, let the fire department know ahead of time and make arrangements with someone in your home to check on that person if a fire should happen.
Spread the Word
Tell guests or visitors to your home about your family's fire escape plan. When staying overnight at other people's homes, ask about their escape plan. If they don't have one, you might be the one person who encourages them to create one.
If your home has two floors, make sure the second story has a Two-Story Fire Escape Ladder. If you have an old fire escape ladder, test it to be sure it is still safe. Some people use a fire escape rope, but this is often more difficult to climb down, and in an emergency, you want to be as sure-footed as possible. The one we own is made of metal.
Other Fire Escape Ideas:
Keep a baby harness by the crib in case of emergencies. The harness, worn like a body brace, allows you to comfortably carry your baby and leave your hands free to escape the home.
Keep a MagLite LED Flashlight (I keep a MagLite by my bed) and a washcloth by your bedside table in case of an emergency. The cloth will assist in breathing and the flashlight will help you see in dense smoke.
Put away all matches and lighters. Fires started by children under the age of 5 are related to these matches and lighters being within their reach.
Always close doors to rooms when leaving your home as it will slow a fire.
Teach children not to hide during a fire. Even if they started the fire, they should not hide and be afraid of getting caught.
Help children understand that they should not worry about pets or go to search for them. Let them know that pets can often get out of harm's way on their own.
Having a fire escape plan is an important part of disaster preparation and disaster survival. Make it a part of your planning today.