It’s fire safety month, and if you haven’t already, it’s a great time to develop (and practice) your family’s fire safety plan. It could save your life in the event of an emergency!
We never think we’ll be the ones a disaster will happen to…until we are. Something as simple as a kitchen fire or poor circuitry in a loved lamp or small appliance can mean big damage when it comes to house fires. More, home fires could injure or take the lives of our family members and/or pets. Experts say it’s especially important to go over a plan.
Most importantly, sit with your children and talk about why you need a plan. Assure them that you don’t expect anything bad to happen, but in case it does, you’ll be as prepared as you can. Have sketched maps of your home’s floor plan and have each child find their room and other places on the map so they are familiar with floor plans and exits. For younger children, you can put pictures of each child in their rooms and/or other notable things to help them understand what room is what.
Using the map, draw exit routes for each child. If possible, draw two routes from each room (including a window, even if several stories up) in case the primary route of exit is not usable. Most importantly, make sure that your child knows their main job is to get out and to the meeting place, and be sure that you’ve established a designated meeting place that is far enough from danger. This can be a mailbox or neighbor’s porch, and once done, be sure to put this map in a place all can see often.
An adult should be accountable for ensuring children and pets are out safely, so be sure to let younger children know to just do ‘their job’ and you’ll take care of the rest. If you have children old enough, designate them to call 911 or go get a neighbor (once out of the house!). Keeping family members involved helps them take more possession of the plan, and you have a better chance of them executing as needed in the event of an emergency.
Talk to your children about staying low on the floor and crawling, particularly if they see smoke. Remind them that smoke inhalation can make them sick, so they need to be sure to cover their mouths and noses with their shirt or a small blanket. Remind them that the doorknob is the best way to tell if they should or shouldn’t go out their door, and if it is hot, they should go by their window.
If they are able to be seen in the window, they should try to let someone know they are there, but you can also show them how to use a window ladder if they are old enough. In multi-story homes, one in each room is a great idea. Tell your children that it’s important they just do their job and get out, and not to worry about their things–that things can be replaced, but people and pets cannot.
Most importantly, practice. Let the kids know what the fire detector sounds like, and practice drills. Do so regularly so you can hopefully get any issues out of the way before any actual emergency should occur. This will also hopefully instil confidence and remove some panic if there is a real emergency, and that could be the difference between life and death.