Fire safety is critical, as is developing an escape plan in the event of a hazardous event.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 367,000 home structure fires occurred in the United States in 2014, resulting in 2,745 civilian deaths. Every home should have a clearly communicated escape plan in place to prevent tragic loss of life in the event of a fire.
Tips for Creating an At-Home Fire Safety Plan
Organize a family meeting to discuss fire safety. Present the facts succinctly in order to avoid frightening children. Assist them in realizing that information and planning actually provide them with power in the event of an emergency. Sparky.org features a fire prevention checklist and other activities designed to engage children and get them excited about safety planning. Additionally, the Red Cross offers the Monster Guard mobile app, which assists children in learning about home emergencies. Consult your local fire department to determine whether you can bring children to the fire station to demonstrate how prepared emergency responders in your area are.
• Walk through your home with your partner and discuss possible exits and escape routes in the event of a fire. Discuss the consequences of a fire occurring during daylight hours versus a fire occurring at night, while the family is sleeping.
• Create a floor plan for your home, indicating two possible exits from each room via windows and doors. The NFPA provides a downloadable escape planning grid and a downloadable brochure on maintaining clear escape routes. Additionally, the Red Cross offers a printable version of this home fire escape plan in English and Spanish.
• Discuss the importance of smoke alarms and how they work with your family. Indicate where each one is located in your home and test the alarms so that family members are familiar with the sound they make when triggered.
• If you have infants, toddlers, senior citizens, or disabled family members, ensure that your escape plan includes individuals assigned to assist them in the event of an emergency.
• Ensure that each family member has access to emergency escape fire ladder equipment that can be used from windows in second story rooms. Practice retrieving and using the ladders while always being supervised by an adult.
• Choose an outside meeting location away from your home with your family to gather in the event of an escape.
• Practice quickly evacuating your home. Conduct mock fire drills simulating both day and night emergencies. Practice touching closed doors and door knobs or handles to determine if they are hot from the fire, as well as how to remain in place and seal the room as much as possible if the fire prevents you from escaping. Discuss how to contact the fire department or send a signal from a window to alert responders to your location if you are unable to exit. Experiment with crawling low to avoid smoke in halls and rooms.
• If possible, devise a plan to assist pets in safely evacuating as well.
• Emphasize to all members of your family that getting out of the house is the primary objective in the event of a fire. When human life is at stake, do not pause to grab valuables.
• Post the fire safety plan and diagram in a prominent location in your home so that family members can become familiar with the information.
• Remind everyone that they should not re-enter the home until fire personnel indicate that it is safe to do so.
While you’re developing and practicing your home’s fire safety plan, take a look from the street to ensure that your house number is visible from the street, even at night, so that emergency responders can quickly locate your home. This home fire safety checklist from the United States Fire Administration and FEMA can assist you in avoiding common household fire hazards, and this emergency preparedness kit checklist can assist you in preparing the essentials your family may require in the event of a disaster. Additionally, ServiceMaster Restore has some helpful information about what to do after a fire and how to deal with smoke damage.