Fires are the single most common disaster across the nation, so when a fire occurs, there is no time to waste. Establishing a fire escape plan can help ensure that your family evacuates your house quickly and safely through routes that are pre-planned discussed and practiced. Here’s a step-by-step plan from Rainbow International® to help you prepare your family’s fire escape plan:
- Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area and on every level of your house. Test each alarm monthly and change all the batteries at least once a year.
- Draw a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of every room – especially sleeping areas. It’s also important to make sure that all family members know how to open doors and window locks. Also, if you have security bars on your windows or window guards, they should have a quick-release feature that can be operated from the inside.
- If your house has two or more floors, place portable escape ladders in or near windows to provide an additional escape route. If you live in an apartment or high-rise condo building, never use the elevator to escape, stick to the stairs.
- Set a plan in advance for who will assist the very young, elderly, or physically challenged members of your household.
- Teach your family that when the smoke alarm sounds, they should:
- Roll out of bed onto the floor.
- Stay low beneath the smoke and crawl to the door.
- Check the door for heat with the back of the hand. If the door is cool, then open it slowly and check to see if it’s safe to crawl to the nearest exit. If the door is hot, don’t open it! Instead, place a towel or blanket across the bottom of the door to keep smoke out and crawl to the nearest window to exit the house.
- Choose an outside meeting place a safe distance (more than 300 feet away) from your home and make sure everyone knows to meet at this location after they escape the burning house.
- Once everyone is safely at the designated meeting spot, call your local fire department from a friend or neighbor’s house.
- Under no circumstances should you re-enter your house. Once you are out of the burning house, stay out until a fire official gives you permission to re-enter the house.
- Practice your family’s fire escape plan at least once every six months. It’s important to practice it during the day and during the night and make the fire drill as realistic as possible. Be sure to practice all escape routes to ensure all household members know how to escape safely.
Since a small flame can quickly grow out of control and turn into a large, uncontrollable fire in less than 30 seconds, it’s vital for you to establish and plan your family’s fire escape plan. Remember, building your family’s fire escape plan can keep your family safe!