One of the most important things to have for home fire safety is an escape plan. But, according to the National Fire Protection Association, only 1/3 of American households have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. In 2012, there were 365,000 reported home structure fires and 2,380 civilian deaths associated with those fires. Fire can spread very quickly through a home, giving a very limited amount of time (sometimes less than 2 minutes) to escape after a smoke alarm goes off. In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can get out of control and turn into a major fire. Creating a home fire safety plan is one step in keeping your home and family safe during an emergency. Creating the plan is one thing, but making sure that you practice the plan is something that has to be done so every family member understands what needs to be done in the event of a fire.
AKE Safety Equipment wants to make sure that your family is safe and knows what to do during a fire emergency. Below are tips for creating a home fire escape plan that will help save you and your family during a fire emergency.
1. Have the entire family work on the home fire escape plan. Walk through the home together and assess all possible exits and escape routes. Clear any escape routes of furniture, toys, and other obstructions. Check the windows to make sure that they are not stuck and can open easily.
2. Draw a map of each level of the home showing all the doors and windows. Here is an example of a grid that you can use to map out your escape plan.
3. There should be two escape routes in every room – usually the door and a window. If the room is on the second floor, invest in collapsible fire escape ladders and store them where they are easily accessible.
4. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area, and on every floor in the home. An interconnected smoke alarm system can be set up to have all alarms go off if one alarm is triggered.
5. Everyone in the family needs to understand the escape route. Practice the plan at least every 6 months, if not more. Inform house guests and visitors of the escape plan as well.
6. Choose an outside meeting place a safe distance from the home; this could be at a neighbor’s house or just on the street. Put the “safe place” on your home escape map.
7. Call 9-1-1 in the event of a fire. Small children should also know how to make this call.
8. Assign someone in the family to assist babies, toddlers, smaller children, and older family members who could be mobility challenged during the time of a fire emergency.
9. Do not touch hot door handles or open doors that are hot to the touch. Use the secondary escape route if the fire is on the other side of the door.
10. Teach children how to crawl under the smoke to reduce chances of toxic smoke inhalation.
11. Once you have escaped the house during a fire, never go back inside Allow the fire fighters to be the ones to enter your home and get anyone outside who might not have escaped.
12. Be fully prepared for a real fire. Know what the smoke alarm sounds like and teach children that when they hear that sound to get out of the home immediately. Practice the escape plan both at night and during the day. This will allow the children to realize that fires can happen at any time and that they need to be ready in the event the alarm sounds.