WARREN COUNTY

FIRE & RESCUE SERVICES

Exit Drills In The Home (E.D.I.T.H.)

 

Does your family have an escape plan?

At 2 a.m., Jon and Mary were jolted awake by the sound of the smoke detector upstairs, near the bedrooms of their son Steve, 14 and daughter Molly, 10. John and Mary were very worried about their children's safety, but they remembered the fire escape plan that the family had practiced just the week before, and after putting on their bathrobes and slippers, they immediately left the house and went to their family's designated emergency meeting place -- the Miller's house across the street.

Jon woke the Millers and asked them to call '911'. Mary watched anxiously for Steven and Molly to join her. The children both knew to keep their bedroom doors closed at night and (if they heard the smoke detector) to check them for warmth, using the back of their hands, to determine if there was a fire on the other side. Each door felt warm and the children were able to escape through their bedroom windows, as they had practiced, using the fire escape ladders they kept in their closets. They joined Jon and Mary and together the family waited -- safe and accounted for -- until the fire department arrived. Jon's family members survived their house fire because they were prepared. How prepared is your family for fire? Do you have an escape plan that everyone knows and practices?

 

What ingredients make up an effective escape plan?

A careful escape plan begins with careful preparation, proper placement of smoke detectors and regular Exit Drills In The Home (E.D.I.T.H.) practice. Hopefully, you will never have a fire in your home. However, should a fire occur, your safety and that of your family will depend on calm, rational actions of the occupants. Exit drills in the home and a carefully designed escape plan can be the key to a safe escape.

Home fire escape planning can mean the difference between life and death in a fire situation. A typical home fire can become deadly very fast. From the time the smoke alarm sounds, people may have as little as two minutes to escape. This means that everyone in the household must know what to do immediately and that takes planning and practice.


How do you make sure that everyone gets out as soon as they hear the smoke detector?

  • Make sure your smoke detector works. Test it monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
  • Train your family to recognize the sound of your smoke detectors and to take that sound very seriously.
  • Follow your home fire escape plan and meet at a pre-designated location.

 

How do I put together a fire escape plan?

Advanced planning will ensure that you are ready for any fire emergency and can provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind. To design your own fire escape plan, sketch the floor plan of your home on a piece of paper. Indicate on the plan all doors, windows and other avenues of escape from each room in your home. Draw arrows to indicate the normal exits which would be your primary escape route. With an alternate color, draw arrows to indicate a secondary exit from each room in the home.

Choose a location outside the home where family members should meet once they have safely escaped. A neighbor's front yard or sidewalk may be an ideal meeting place.

 

 

If you need help in designing your plan or if you would like to have your plan reviewed, contact your local fire department for assistance. After completion of the floor plan, sit down with your family to discuss these important points with them:

Location of smoke detectors. The number of detectors you need, and their location, depends upon the layout of your home. There should be a smoke detector located near each of the sleeping areas. It is also a good idea to have at least one detector on each level of your home.

 

Call 911 to Report a Fire.

Everyone should know the location of telephones in the home and where to find a telephone outside of the home. It is very important that children also know the 911 phone number in order to report a fire or other emergency incidents to authorities.

 

Now that we have our plan, what's next?

Your fire escape plan may look great on paper, but does it really work? Regular exit drills in the home will allow you to test the plan and make adjustments as may be needed. When practicing your exit drills in the home, remember to use alternate escape routes as well. Children should be closely supervised during drills in the home and no one should take unnecessary chances.

 

Tips for Practicing the Plan

  • As you exit your home, close all doors behind you to slow the spread of fire and smoke.
  • If your primary exit is blocked by smoke or fire, use your second exit to escape.
  • If you must escape through smoke, stay low and crawl under the smoke to safety. Smoke will rise to the ceiling, leaving cooler, cleaner air close to the floor. Crawl on your hands and knees, not on your belly, because heavier poisons will settle in a thin layer on the floor. Keep your head 12-24 inches (30-60 centimeters) off the floor.
  • If you live in a high-rise building, use the stairs - never the elevator - in case of fire.
  • Make sure that windows open easily. You wouldn't want to have to break out a window during a practice drill. If your windows or doors have security bars installed, equip them with quick-release devices.
  • Pick an outside meeting place, far enough away to be safe. A good meeting place might be a tree, telephone pole, mailbox, or neighbor's home.  Make sure everyone can find the meeting place. Once family members start gathering there, do a quick check to make sure everyone is accounted for. This way you can tell the firefighters if anyone is still inside.
  • If you have family members who may need assistance during an emergency escape, be sure to identify a helper.
  • Once outside, use a cell phone or a neighbor's phone to call 911 and alert the fire department.
  • Update and practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year. Appoint someone to be the monitor and make sure everyone participates and knows what to do.
  • Make your escape drill realistic. Pretend that some exits are blocked by fire or smoke and practice using alternate escape routes.

 

Escape Tips

Here are tips to help in escaping the fire:

  • React immediately to a smoke detector or other fire alarm.
  • NEVER go back inside a burning building.
  • Test doors before opening them. Using the back of your hand, feel the door, the door knob and the space between the door and its frame. If any of these are warm, there is fire on the other side of that door -- find another escape route. If they are cool to the touch, very slowly open the door and look outside to see if it's safe.

Remember, a fire drill is not a race. Get out quickly, but carefully.

 

Family Members with Special Needs

One of our family members has special needs.  How do we best include them in the plan?
Some people face greater risks during a fire emergency as they may have special needs. This would include individuals who are mentally or physically handicapped. Persons with special needs should sleep in a bedroom near someone who can help in the event of an emergency. A physically handicapped person may require a sleeping area on the ground floor. Designing a special escape plan will depend on the abilities of the person.

 

Exit Drills In The Home

Exit drills in the home can help people to prepare for an emergency. Most home fires begin between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m. This is a time when most people are least prepared. In the middle of the night, fire can be a disaster if you and your family are not familiar with how to escape during an emergency.

So, to protect yourself and your family, remember these tips:

  • Prepare a fire escape plan.
  • Install and maintain smoke detectors.
  • Practice Exit Drills In The Home (E.D.I.T.H.) regularly.
  • Examine your home for fire hazards and take steps to prevent a fire before it occurs.

 Warren County Fire & Rescue Services

200 Skyline Vista Drive, Suite 200

Front Royal, VA  22630

540-636-3830

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