This week is Fire Prevention Week. Do you have a plan for keeping your family safe in the event of a house fire?
The most important thing you can do to keep your family safe in the event of a house fire is to make sure that you have functioning smoke alarms installed on all floors of your home and in each bedroom. Regularly check your smoke alarms to make sure they are working properly by pushing the test button. Get in the habit of changing the batteries in your smoke alarms twice per year when you change your clocks for daylight savings. And if your smoke alarm starts to chirp, that means it is time to change the battery right away.
Another beneficial thing to do to keep your family safe in the event of a fire is to come up with a fire exit plan and to practice it! Your children practice what to do in the event of a fire at school, it is equally important to make sure they know what to do if there’s a fire when they’re at home.
As a family, discuss the different ways to get out of each room as well as out of the house. This will include both doors and windows. Make sure everyone knows that they should always feel a door before they open it, and if it feels hot, they should find a different way out. If the way out is a window on an upper level, be sure that you have an escape ladder located near the window and make sure everyone knows how to use it. When our children were very young, all our bedrooms were located on the upper level of our home. We had a fire ladder in each of the children’s bedrooms, but we knew that they wouldn’t be able to use the ladder on their own. For this reason, we came up with a plan A and a plan B. Plan A was for us to split up and to go into the kid’s bedrooms and exit out the windows with them. Plan B recognized that we may not be able to get to their rooms, so we taught them to stuff a blanket under the door to keep the smoke out and to wait by the open window for help.
Make sure to come up with a prearranged meeting place outside that is a safe distance from the home and tell everyone to meet there once they get out of the house. Remind them to get out quickly and then stay out. Tell your children that as tempting as it may be to try to rescue a pet or a special belonging, their life is a priority. For the same reason, no one should go back into a burning home. Wait for the fire fighters to come and if they can safely enter your home to rescue your pet, they will.
Make sure your children are familiar with the sound that the fire alarms in your home make and practice with them exactly what they should do when they hear them going off. If you have babies or other family members that will need assistance to get out, make sure you have a plan in place for assisting them.
Teach even young children how to call 9-1-1. Show them pictures of fire fighters in all their gear so that they are not afraid of them during an actual emergency. Assure them that they are helpers that will come to put out the fire as well as to take care of anyone that may be injured.
There are many things you can do to keep your home safe from potential fire hazards. Cook safely. Don’t overload electrical outlets. Unplug electrical items (such as cell phone chargers) that are known to start fires. Keep a close eye on candles. But it is also important to be prepared in case the unexpected happens. So, make a fire escape plan and practice it with your family. Hopefully you’ll never have to use it, but you’ll never regret being prepared.