Fire Escape Planning
Your ability to get out depends on advance warning from smoke detectors and advance planning.
Making it out is the number one goal when it comes to fire safety. You can always replace a house but you can’t replace a life.
Every home should have a fire escape plan and everyone that lives in that home should know that plan. Fire escape planning may seem silly but if there is ever a fire, you’ll be glad you have it. You want to make sure everyone know what to do and where to go, especially young children.
Here are some tips to help you create your very own fire escape plan.
Gather everyone that lives in the home
Everyone needs to be a part of developing the plan. This way they know why certain routes were chosen and they can also help make the plan better.
Draw a map of your home
Print out our Home Fire Escape Plan sheet and draw a map of your home. It doesn’t have to be perfect but try to make it as accurate as possible. Make sure you mark the locations of all doors, windows, and smoke detectors.
Inspect all possible exits and escape routes
Make sure you mark all possible escape routes on the map. You at least want a primary escape route and a secondary escape route from each room.
Make sure smoke detectors are installed and working
You want to make sure smoke detectors are installed on the inside and outside of each sleeping area. You also want to make sure they’re installed on every level of your home. Make sure that your smoke detectors are working properly by inspecting them every couple months. You should change the batteries once or twice a year. And you should replace every smoke detector every 10 years.
Choose a meeting place outside
Choose a meeting place that is a safe distance from the home. You only want one meeting place so everyone is in the same spot after escaping. This way, you know if anyone is left inside of the house. But whatever you do, NEVER GO BACK INTO THE HOUSE AFTER ESCAPING!!! If you think someone is left in the house, inform that dispatcher or Fire Department. They have special tools for rescuing people from fires.
Practice Sealing Off a Room
In the case that someone is unable to escape a room and they’re trap, they should know how to seal off a room.
To do this, close all doors between you and the fire. Use duct tape, blankets, or towels to block all of the cracks around doors so smoke can’t get through. You also want to block all air vents. If possible, then open a window to let fresh air into the room. If you are unsure if the Fire Department has been notified, call them at this time. Then go to that window and wave a flashlight or bright towel to let the Firefighters know where you’re located.
Make sure your street number is visible
Go outside to see if your street number is clearly visible from the road. If not, paint it on the curb or install house numbers to ensure that responding emergency personnel can find your home.
Family with mobility limitations
If there are infants, older adults, or family members with mobility limitations, make sure that someone is assigned to assist them in the fire drill and in the event of an emergency. Assign a backup person too, in case the designee is not home during the emergency.
Tell guests about your escape plan
Tell guests or visitors to your home about your family’s fire escape plan. When staying overnight at other people’s homes, ask about their escape plan. If they don’t have a plan in place, offer to help them make one. This is especially important when children are permitted to attend “sleepovers” at friends’ homes.
Be fully prepared for a real fire
When smoke detectors sound, get out immediately! You don’t want anyone getting use to checking if there is really a fire. This could endanger them or get them trapped. When you here those detectors go off, get out!
Once you’re out, stay out!
NEVER GO BACK INTO THE HOUSE AFTER ESCAPING!!! If you think someone is left in the house, inform that dispatcher or Fire Department. They have special tools for rescuing people from fires.
Putting your plan to the test
- Practice your home fire escape plan twice a year, making the drill as realistic as possible.
- Make arrangements in your plan for anyone in your home who has a disability.
- Allow children to master fire escape planning and practice before holding a fire drill at night when they are sleeping. The objective is to practice, not to frighten, so telling children there will be a drill before they go to bed can be as effective as a surprise drill.
- It’s important to determine during the drill whether children and others can readily waken to the sound of the smoke alarm. If they fail to awaken, make sure that someone is assigned to wake them up as part of the drill and in a real emergency situation.
- If your home has two floors, every family member (including children) must be able to escape from the second floor rooms. Escape ladders can be placed in or near windows to provide an additional escape route. Review the manufacturer’s instructions carefully so you’ll be able to use a safety ladder in an emergency. Practice setting up the ladder from a first floor window to make sure you can do it correctly and quickly. Children should only practice with a grown-up, and only from a first-story window. Store the ladder near the window, in an easily accessible location. You don’t want to have to search for it during a fire.
- Always choose the escape route that is safest – the one with the least amount of smoke and heat – but be prepared to escape under toxic smoke if necessary. When you do your fire drill, everyone in the family should practice getting low and going under the smoke to your exit.
- Closing doors on your way out slows the spread of fire, giving you more time to safely escape.
- In some cases, smoke or fire may prevent you from exiting your home or apartment building. To prepare for an emergency like this, practice “sealing yourself in for safety” as part of your home fire escape plan. Close all doors between you and the fire. Use duct tape or towels to seal the door cracks and cover air vents to keep smoke from coming in. If possible, open your windows at the top and bottom so fresh air can get in. Call the fire department to report your exact location. Wave a flashlight or light-colored cloth at the window to let the fire department know where you are located.
Long story short, make a plan, make sure everyone knows the plan, and practice the plan. Fire escape planning can be completed in a few hours and it could save someones life.
If you already have a fire escape plan, share this with your friends so they can make one too. Ask your friends if they have a plan. If they don’t, help them make one. You never know when they plan will be called into action.
Stay safe everyone!
Some of the information in this article was taken from the NFPA’s article about Fire Escape Planning. Check it out here!