Fire Prevention Week! Plan TWO Ways Out of the House
If there were a fire in your house, do you and your family know the nearest way out? Every year there are more than 89,000 home structure fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). When a fire starts in your home you may only have seconds to safely escape. The majority of injuries and fatalities are from smoke inhalation rather than the fire itself. Because a fire can start anywhere in your home, you need to plan two ways out in the event you can’t safely get to your primary exit. Keep in mind that your only way out may be a window.
It is highly advised to have an Annual Chimney Cleaning to be sure that any creosote or obstructions (animal nests) are removed from your chimney. Prior to using your stove or fireplace each season please get a full Chimney Inspection which will assure you that the entire system is in good working order.
The smoke detector is an important first layer of defense that has saved countless lives. So make sure you test your smoke detectors at least once every 6 months and replace the batteries once per year. This may be your only warning if a fire should break out in your home in the middle of the night.
How to Plan Your Home Fire Escape
• Draw a map of your home. Be sure to mark the doors and windows for each room on your map.
• Use a red pen or marker to draw an arrow to the primary exit and an alternate exit.
• Pick a place outside that is away from your home where everyone will meet after they are out of the house like at the end of the driveway.
• Instruct your kids on how to dial 9-1-1 in case an adult is not able to call for help.
• Have regular fire drills to practice your home fire escape plan.
Fire Drills Can Prevent Tragedies
Now that you have your home fire escape plan its time to put it into action with regular fire drills. Unfortunately, a 2011 Liberty Mutual Insurance Fire Safety Study revealed that just 28 percent of families had practiced fire drills in their home. It only takes about 7 to 8 minutes for a house to be completely engulfed in flames.
Regularly practicing fire drills will ensure everyone in the house understands how to escape quickly and safely. Also, in a real fire your home may begin to fill up with smoke. And you may not be able to simply walk or run out of the house. When practicing fire drills teach children to gently feel the door knob and not open the door if it is hot and use their second way out. When exiting the room stay low to the ground crawling on hands and knees with a towel or shirt covering your face until you reach the primary or alternate way out. Instruct kids to leave the house without bringing any toys or waiting for anyone else or pets. An adult should evacuate small children and pets.
Home Fire Drill
• Activate your smoke detector
• Make sure children are exiting the home the same way as if it were a real fire –staying low to the ground and crawling out the exit.
• Have a friend or neighbor set a timer or stopwatch to test how quickly everyone arrives at the meeting place keeping mind that in a real-world scenario it may take longer to exit.
• Keep practicing and testing with regular fire drills until everyone is able to safely leave the house in under 90 seconds.
• You can also use a chair to block the primary exit to make sure everyone knows another way out of the house.
• Children should know how to open the window and wait for help to arrive in case that is their only safe way out.
• Teach children to always exit the house whenever they hear the smoke alarm and not to assume it is a drill.
The more practice fire drills you have, the more likely it will become second nature to everyone in the family. This will help everyone remain calm and not panic in a real emergency.