Once your smoke alarm sounds, your family may have as little as two minutes to get out of the house. You may think that you and your family would know instinctively what to do in case of fire, but instincts are not always reliable. This is especially true of young children, whose response to danger may be to run and hide. To keep your family safe in case of fire, you need to not only make a fire safety plan but practice it every once in a while, just as the city periodically performs a hydrant flow test to be sure it is operational before it is needed.
- Identify and Clear Potential Exits
You should create a diagram of your home with all the potential fire exits clearly marked. These include windows as well as doors. Show the diagram to your children and discuss it with them. Better yet, let them help you make the diagram and identify the exits.
Sometimes there are objects in front of fire exits that make them inaccessible. Clear the debris away ahead of time so that you can make use of the exit in case of an emergency. Remember that the time you have to escape may be limited.
- Designate a Meeting Place
While getting out of a burning building is the most important step, you also need to know what you and your family will do once you get outside. Identify a landmark that is recognizable to all members of the family and designate that as your family meeting place. Be sure it is distant enough from the house to pose no danger from the flames.
- Rehearse Your Plan
In addition to discussing your plan with your children, you should rehearse it with the whole family a couple of times a year. Every time you run the drill, use a different exit so that children understand that they have to find a different way out if the first way is blocked.