Read More Home Fire Safety: Knowing What To Do
In the case of a fire, your first consideration should be the safety of you and your family. If there is a question about staying at home or leaving, evacuate immediately. Here is a list of procedures to follow.
Preparing for the Fire
It is important to make sure you have an evacuation plan and practice it at least twice a year. This will ensure that your means of exiting the house are well-established and understood. Here's a checklist.
- Every room needs an escape plan, but the bedrooms should be a primary consideration.
- A window will usually be a secondary exit. Make sure it is not blocked by furniture and is easily operable by children. Screens must come off easily. If your home has security bars, they must have inside quick release devices. Practice using them.
- If you have a two-story home, a fire escape ladder is a must. Have one for each occupied bedroom. Practice using them out of first floor windows so everyone is knows how they are deployed.
- Install at least one smoke detector on each floor and test it regularly. Detectors that are over 10 years old should be replaced. (Most house fires occur at night while the occupants are sleeping.)
Fleeing the Fire
- Once the alarm has sounded, get out fast!!
- Do not stop to gather valuables.
- Don't let the children look for favorite toys or for the family pet.
- Remember, there is no luxury of time. Fire moves FAST!
- Before opening doors, feel them for warmth with the back of your hand and look for smoke seeping in around the edges.
- If it seems safe, open the door slowly and be prepared to slam it shut if heat or smoke rush in.
- You should have a designated outside meeting place and everyone should know where it is. Locate the meeting place well away from the house and make a rule: "ONCE OUT - STAY OUT."
- As soon as two people have reached the meeting place, one should leave to call '911'. The second member should stay to account for all other family members.
- If someone is missing do not go back inside; notify the fire department as soon as they arrive.
- Know and teach your children how to use 911. Post your house address near the phone.
- Rehearsing the escape plan regularly is essential. A practiced routine will help override panic in an emergency situation. Children who have had fire drill practice at home will usually do the right thing in a real emergency. Without such practice they will usually hide under a bed or in a closet, which can mean disaster. A small amount of time spent planning and rehearsing may mean the difference between life and death in a fire.