Perfect Time to Make a Home Fire Escape Plan

Sadly, the holidays seem to be a time when there are many house and apartment fires. Here in Houston, there have been 3 apartment complex fires in the last couple of weeks.

Fires can be caused by many things, and the holidays can be especially dangerous from holiday decorating placing a larger demand on electrical resources to the prosaic falling asleep while smoking in bed.

Fire departments urge people to create home fire escape plans, and I think this time of the year is a perfect time to do that.

How to Make a Home Fire Escape Plan

1. Analyze your home whether it's a single family dwelling or an apartment in a large building.

2. Draw a map of your home. Show all exits--doors and windows. If in a building, detail the exits that take you to the outside.

3. Mark the positions of all smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.

Note: A smoke alarm should be placed inside each sleeping room, outside the areas, and on every level of the home. More on smoke alarms at the end of this post.

4. Physically go into each room and look around. Find 2 ways out of each room. Make sure the ways out aren't blocked in any way. Open and close all windows and doors. They should open easily. If they don't, fix them so they do. Never nail windows closed in the name of security. That's a good way to die in a fire.

5. Draw arrows on your home map showing the way to go to get outside.

6. Pick a meeting place in front of the house where all family members will gather if they have to evacuate.

7. Make sure your house number or your apartment building number can be seen from the street.

8. Now that you have your plan designed, gather the family and talk your way through the plan. Make sure everyone understands the plan. Practice calling 911. Talk about whether anyone should grab something precious before leaving. Emphasize that the only thing precious is human life. Emphasize that all should make the habit of keeping cell phones on the nightstand.

9. Now rehearse the plan. Rehearse it as if it were 2 in the morning and everyone is asleep in his/her bedroom. Blow a whistle that represents the smoke alarm going off. Everyone is to exit and gather outside at the arranged meeting point. Once outside, practice calling 911.

10. Rehearse several times from several scenarios: someone is taking a shower when the alarm goes off, everyone is watching TV, or some are playing video games and some are napping. Rehearse the escape plan until it is embedded in the subconscious.

11. Frequently throughout the year, have a home fire escape drill.

More About Smoke Alarms

Make sure your home has smoke alarms as discussed above. Many security systems have the option of fire alarm packages where the alarm will call the local fire department. The old-fashioned inexpensive battery-operated kind still work well. The important thing is to have a smoke alarm of some kind.

Push the test button once a month to make sure each alarm is working properly. In the U.S. when the time changes on or off daylight savings time, which happens twice a year in the spring and fall, use that time to change the batteries in your smoke alarms.

Takeaway Truth

Teach your children fire safety and protect your family by creating a fire escape plan for your home. It just may save your life or the life of someone you love. Pass this on.

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