According to the Red Cross, it can take as little as two minutes for a home to be engulfed in flames. It’s terrifying to think of how swift and devastating a house fire can be – one reason why you need to make sure you have enough home insurance. When a fire hits, the most important thing is the safety of you and your family. That’s why you and your loved ones need to be prepared – when a fire starts, time is precious. Everyone needs to know what to do when the smoke detector goes off or they smell smoke. For everyone to get out of the house and to safety as quickly as possible, you need to have a family fire escape plan. We’ve got a few tips to help you put together your fire escape plan and keep your family safe.
1. Tour your home and figure out two escape routes from every room.
Just in case the obvious exit from any given room is blocked by smoke, heat, or flame, you need to have a backup plan. It might be a window or a route into another room that has a path to the outside. Involve your family in this process. Talk through the best escape routes together.
2. Make sure everyone is clear on basic fire safety.
While you’re creating your fire escape plan, take some time to review basic fire safety with your family. On the agenda should be…
- Stop, drop, and roll to extinguish flames from clothing.
- How to call 911
- Opening closed doors: Use the back of a hand to feel the doorknob, the top of the door, and the crack between the frame and the door.
- If it’s hot, use the second exit.
- If it’s cool, brace yourself against it and open it slowly.
- Crawling low to the ground and covering your mouth if you have to go through smoke.
- How to store flammable chemicals/items.
- Not wasting time trying to gather personal belongings.
- Teaching children not to play with fire – what to do if they encounter matches or a lighter. You need to make sure that kids know that these are for grown-ups only and keep them out of sight and reach.
- Considering getting fire extinguishers for your home and making sure you know how to use fire extinguishers safely.
3. Set a designated meeting spot for your family.
Part of your plan should be deciding on a meeting spot a safe distance away from your home. Everyone should know where you’re going to gather after you’ve escaped. One person should be the appointed 911-caller. Their job is to go to a neighbor’s house to call 911 and tell them about the fire.
4. Teach children what the smoke detector sounds like and what to do.
It’s important that your kids know how to respond to the sound of the smoke alarm. They may get frightened and hide when they hear the alarm, see fire, or smell smoke. You need to stress the importance of using the escape plan that you discussed and make sure that your kids understand.
5. Practice your fire escape plan.
Once you’ve established what your escape routes are and where your meeting place will be, you need to put your plan to the test. You can practice “escaping” from the house. You can even time everyone – your family should be able to escape in less than two minutes.
Be sure to practice your plan in different conditions. Getting up and walking outside is easy when it’s broad daylight, but what about when it’s dark and smoky? You can have your family (carefully!) practice getting out of the house with their eyes closed. Everyone should also practice crawling, pretending that there’s heavy smoke above their heads.
6. Make sure your escape routes are clear.
Of course, the crucial part of a fire escape plan is actually making it to the exit – and then through the exit and to safety. To make escaping as easy as possible, keep your home tidy and the floors clear. Check the windows to make sure they unlatch and slide open easily. If there are any sticky windows that won’t budge, have them fixed. If you have any child safety gates, latches, or window bars, make sure they have a quick release feature for quick escapes.
7. Check your smoke detectors.
Don’t forget to count your smoke detectors and note their locations. Do you have enough smoke detectors? Are they located outside every bedroom? Make sure to test them once a month so that you know they work. Change the batteries once a year – a good idea is to change them at Daylights Savings so that you remember the last time you put fresh batteries in the smoke detectors. You might also be able to get your security system turned into a home fire alarm system.
If a fire starts in your home, you don’t have a lot of time to react and get out. That’s why it’s so important to be fully prepared and know exactly what to do. There isn’t time to hesitate or think. You and your family have to be able to act. Remember, practice makes perfect. Having fire drills at home will help everyone keep the escape plan fresh in their minds. It’s important to talk about fire safety and discuss the escape plan so that everyone is on the same page. Get the kids involved and make sure that know how to be fire safe. Don’t skip out on making a fire escape plan. It’s crucial to keep your family safe.
Do you need home insurance or renters insurance? We’d be happy to help you get the coverage you need. We can help you design an insurance plan to protect your family. All you have to do to get in touch with our agents is fill out our online quote form or give us a call today.