During a house fire, every second counts. That’s why it’s important for you and your family to be prepared.
A recent study by the American Red Cross found that many homeowners are both overconfident and underprepared when it comes to fire safety. While 80% of those surveyed thought everyone in their house knows what to do if a fire breaks out, less than half had an established plan.
Are you doing everything you can to help protect your family in the event of a house fire? Here are seven tips to make (or improve) your own fire escape plan:
Map your exits. Draw a map of your home’s floor plan. Then, establish two ways to exit from each room. If you have young children, take a walk around your home to show them exactly where each escape window, door or route is.
Determine a meeting place. Define one area where everyone should gather after escaping your home in the event of a fire. It should be a specific place, like a tree or mailbox, that’s a safe distance from your home’s structure. And make sure firefighters or emergency personnel can see you there, too.
Know who’s on point to help. Select a captain who will help young children or assist anyone who is unable to get out on their own, like seniors or those with limited mobility. Selecting one adult for this job will help eliminate further confusion during a chaotic time.
Teach your kids to get low. In a house fire, smoke can be as dangerous as flames. Explain to your children the importance of staying low to the ground during a fire. Practice crawling around the perimeter of a room to show them the proper way to escape. Tools like this workbook from the U.S. Fire Administration can serve as a great teaching resource, too.
Check your smoke alarms. Ensure that you have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home. Then test them regularly to ensure their batteries work. Educate your kids and let them hear the sound of an alarm in advance, so they’ll recognize it during an actual emergency.
Practice, practice, practice. To make sure everyone understands the plan, conduct your own home fire drill. Send each family member to their room and have one person sound the smoke alarm. Start a timer and follow your designated routes to an outside meeting place. Then, check your escape time to ensure everyone makes it out in under two minutes.
Incentivize your fire drills. If you have younger kids, turn your drills into a game. See if you can speed walk from your bedrooms to your safe meeting space. If it happens under two minutes, reward everyone with a favorite dessert or a new toy.