In prepping for different types of disasters that can come and potentially affect our families, house fires often get overlooked, even though they are the cause of thousands of deaths in our country every single year. Winter months tend to see a larger number of house fires, which can be attributed to more frequent use of fires, heaters, space heaters, and even lights for the Holiday season. Let’s cover some of the basics so that you can start getting your family ready in case of emergency.
- Time is not your friend – The first thing everyone in the family needs to know is time is a luxury that you do not have. Small fires can rage completely out of control in less than 30 seconds and your home can fill with dangerous fumes in minutes. Help your family and loved ones to understand how critical it is to get outside and away from danger as quickly as possible. Teach them to remain calm, and find a safe exit out.
- Have a Plan – Get a floor plan for your house and map out several routes of escape for your family. Let your kids draw in the routes, with your guidance and help, and make sure that everyone understands where to go if a fire breaks out. Have a few copies that you can place in drawers, behind closet doors, or other places that are out of the way, but will be seen from time to time to remind everyone what to do.
- Practice, Practice, Practice – Set aside time each month to practice an escape. Let your family escape from every room in the house, including basements, attics, and bathrooms. Try and have two routes for every room in the house, if possible. Invest in collapsible or rope ladders for upstairs rooms that are easy to operate and all family members can use. Make it fun if you can, maybe give awards and prizes to those who can exit the quickest.
- Have a meeting place – Designate a safe location away from your home that everyone can safely get to. It could be the sidewalk, a specific tree in the front yard, or even the mailbox. Once everyone is accounted for, have one family member go to a neighbors’ home to call for help.
- Don’t go back in – Get out of the home as quickly as you can and get the professionals there as quickly as possible. Never go back into a burning building for any reason, even if kids are not accounted for. Firefighters are trained to rescue and can do it much more effectively and are equipped to perform them safely. It may be very hard for you to stay out, but realize that more harm than good will come from you re-entering a burning home.
Finally, make sure that fire alarms are working by testing them frequently. Have a fire extinguisher handy, especially in places like kitchens and furnace rooms, where fires typically start. It also helps to have a survival kit in an easy to reach location that could be grabbed on the way out of the home, especially in places that are common escape routes. A backpack with a few snacks, small blankets, flashlights, and first aid kit should suffice.Don’t get caught unaware. Fires happen, tens of thousands of people are injured every year by them, and several thousand people die. Take the time to put together a family emergency preparedness plan for as many situations as you can think of, including a fire plan. Nothing helps a parent sleep better than knowing that your family is ready in case of emergency.