Fire Prevention Week! Plan TWO Ways Out
When there is a fire in the home, every second counts. According to fire officials, you have less than two minutes to escape a burning home for ultimate safety. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to get out in time. There were more than 3,000 deaths, including nearly 300 children less than 14 years of age from house fires in 2015 alone, according to U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) statistics.
When a fire breaks out in the home the interior rooms fill up with smoke very quickly. Smoke from a house fire is very thick, making it difficult to breathe and nearly impossible to see, even if it’s the middle of the day. Your family will have to be able to make it safely out of the house by crawling on the floor with a shirt or towel protecting their face from smoke inhalation. Since you may not be able to get to the front door or your primary exit, you need to have two ways of escaping your home. To make sure your family survives a house fire, the American Red Cross, National Fire Protection Association and local fire departments recommend everyone implement a home fire escape plan and practice with routine fire drills.
Test Smoke Detectors
First, make sure you have working smoke detectors in your home. The USFA recommends pushing the button to test your smoke detectors once a month and replace with fresh batteries every six months. Many people find it easier to remember to change the batteries when they change the clocks for standard and daylight savings time.
Plan Two Ways Out
Second, develop a fire escape plan for your home. Simply, walk around and draw a map of your home on a sheet of paper. Be sure to include the doors and windows on the map. Then take a red pen or magic marker and draw two arrows from each room pointing to the two nearest exits. One of the exits may be a window. Let your children know that you may not be able to reach them in an emergency and they will need to be able to find their way out. Teach kids how to open the window in an emergency and wait for help to arrive if the door or doorknob is hot to the touch and they cannot safely exit their room. Assign parents or teenagers the responsibility of guiding small children and pets to safety. Let kids know to get out and leave everything behind. Remember, when exiting a smoke filled room you will want to stay low to the ground covering your face with a rag or shirt until you are safely outside. Once outside, call 9-1-1 to report the fire or run to a neighbor for help.
Third, practice with family fire drills. Press the smoke detector alarm and tell everyone to follow the fire escape plan to leave the house. Identify a safe location for everyone to gather like at the mail box or at the end of the driveway. Make sure everyone arrives at the meeting point in less than 2 minutes after sounding the alarm. Keep practicing fire drills so the fire escape plan is fresh in their mind should an emergency occur. Also, have a fire drill in the evening so family members will understand what its like to have to find their way out of the house in the dark.