Fires are the most common disaster across the nation. When a fire occurs, every second counts when it comes to getting yourself and your family to safety. It can take two minutes for a fire in your home to become life-threatening. That is why there is no time to waste! Below we share with you the steps to establishing your families fire escape plan:
- Smoke Alarms: make sure to install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each sleeping area on each level of your house. Test the alarms monthly and make sure to change the batteries at least once a year.
- Create a Plan Based on Your Home’s Layout: Draw a map of your home that shows all of the doors and windows, make sure to mark two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit. Make sure all members of your family know how to pen doors and window locks. If your home has multiple floors or if you live in an apartment or high-rise condo make sure to have portable ladders near windows. Never use the elevator to escape, stick to the stairs.
- Educate Your Family: Make sure your family knows the number to the fire department as well as how to escape in case you can’t help them. Teach them that “stop, drop, and roll” should only be used if their clothing has caught fire. Get down low and crawl along the perimeter of the room to the exit. Staying low will help keep you below the smoke. Before opening any door make sure to check it with the back of the hand - if it’s cool, open slowly and check to see if it is safe to move on to the next exit, if it’s hot DON’T open it! Try to place a towel or blanket across the bottom to keep the smoke out and move on to the next exit point.
- Establish a Family Meeting Spot: Designate a spot outside that is a safe distance from your home for your family to meet. Make sure your family has agreed on the meeting place. Some suggestions are a neighbor’s mailbox, a large tree, light pole, etc.
- Practice Your Plan: Practice your plan at least twice a year, including at night. Try using different ways out, and even with your eye closed in case visibility is lost due to smoke. It’s important to make the drill as realistic as possible.
- Never Go Back Inside a Burning Building: Close doors behind you has you leave to help minimize the spread of smoke, heat, and fire. Once you get outside, stay outside. Never re-enter your home. The fire official will give you permission to re-enter the house once it is safe.
To help firefighters, make sure your house or building number can be easily seen from the street. Once everyone is safe at your meeting spot, call your local fire department from a friend or neighbor’s house. Remember, building your family’s fire escape plan can keep your family safe!
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