Does Your Family Have a Fire Evacuation Plan? Keep Your Family Safe from Fire by Planning Ahead
A home fire is one of the scariest thoughts imaginable, yet many residents have not developed or tested a fire escape plan.
It’s a simple query: does your family have a fire evacuation plan? According to a survey by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) (www.nfpa.org) only one of every three American households has made a plan and practiced it.
Start by “looking at your family members and your home,” advises Brent Faulkner, CEO of MBIntel.net (www.mbintel.net), a virtual community risk reduction company in Los Angeles. Faulkner has 17 years’ experience on the front line as a firefighter and fire chief.
“Understand your personal safety risk,” Faulkner says. “Are all members of the home able to self-evacuate…or do you have children, elderly, or those with mobility challenges in the home?” Next, consider your house. He suggests that families have two ways out of every room. Physically walk through your home with your family and identify these two exits in each room.
Fire safety experts also recommend making a drawing of your home with all rooms and exits. The NFPA has an example on its web site and downloadable grid sheets to draw your own plan. If you have second floor bedrooms, escape ladders may be needed. Practice using these ladders with all family members. Always close the door to the room where you are when fire breaks out. This may slow the spread of smoke, fire, and heat.
“Once you have looked at your personal risk, make a plan to overcome your weaknesses,” Faulkner says. “Everyone’s plan will be a little bit different if you really plan for your own personal safety risks.”
Maybe the most important thing for all family members to learn: The location of your meeting place outside the house. This is where everyone will gather including pets. The meeting place could be a tree, your mailbox, or a light post. Make sure this site is a safe distance from your home.
Schools have fire drills—families should too! Practice both at night and during the day with everyone that lives in your home twice a year, according to the NFPA. Practice both exits to escape rooms.
Fire alarms are the most important way to save lives when the unthinkable happens. Three of every five home fire deaths is the result of fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms, the NFPA says. Let your family know that when they hear the alarm it is time to get out of the house. Many people in an NFPA survey thought they had more time to get out than they really would have in the event of a blaze.
One option is to install an alarm system integrated with burglary and environmental monitoring systems, this way, any alarm signal from your home will trigger an alert and dispatch the proper authorities, when necessary.
Where should you locate alarms in your home? “Have working smoke detectors inside bedrooms, outside sleeping areas, hallways and common areas,” Faulkner says, and test all smoke alarms once a month.
Faulkner says families should check on their local fire department to see if response will be within a few minutes or delayed by your location. Response may be faster with a security system from Supreme, since when any alarm sounds in your home, either smoke or other hazard detector, a call will be made to you from the company. If you do not answer or acknowledge a fire, Supreme will immediately call emergency responders.
Tips to Keep Your Family Safe
- Have 911 on speed dial and call as soon as possible.
- When you evacuate, crawl or stay close to the floor. Smoke rises—stay under it.
- Teach children to escape on their own in case adults cannot help them.
- Make sure your house or building number can be seen from the street.
- All windows and doors should open easily for escape.
- All alarms in a home should be interconnected so all will sound at once.