Did you know that only one-third of Americans have and practice an escape plan in case of a fire? That means there are millions of families who need to create and implement a plan. So, what are the steps you need to take to make sure your family is prepared? If you have children, you probably want to draw a basic floor plan of your house. Here is a download of National Fire Protection Association’s escape planning grid (PDF, 634 KB). Everyone in the house should walk through together and examine escape routes. The plan is most effective if everyone has a part in creating it and understands its purpose.
Smoke alarms must be outside of every sleeping room and on each floor of the home. If you need to use a collapsible ladder, make sure it is in working order. After you and your family create the plan, make sure all doors and windows are accessible. Practice exiting the home in case there is heavy smoke. Stay low to the ground and crawl. With children and others who may need special attention, it is a good idea to have them do the plan without adults, so they will know how to get to safety. Everyone also needs to know where to meet – well away from the house.
Another aspect to a successful escape plan is to educate everyone on stop, drop to the ground and roll if their clothes have caught fire. Each person should know two ways of escape, in case one is unsafe. Never open a door if the door handle is hot. Instruct children that smoke kills many more people than fire and that firefighters are there to save lives. They can be trusted.
Most people think they will have minutes to get out of a house that is on fire. In reality, sometimes you only have seconds. Practicing your families’ escape plan makes the best use of whatever time you have. Take the time to create your plan, make sure everyone knows what to do — on their own. In the unfortunate circumstance of a house fire, your family will be so skilled at escaping safely, that you can feel that you prepared them well.