Your family and your home are the most precious things to you and the thought of a fire can hit you with fear and worry. At HomeFirst®, that’s one of our fears too.
We worry about you and your family. That’s why it’s so important to us that you are prepared and have a family fire escape plan. If you don’t have a family escape plan for a fire, no worries, we’ll walk you through just what to do! Even if you do have a plan, take a look at this list and make sure there’s not something here that you may need to add.
Talk About It
Get your family together and talk about developing a family escape plan. If you have small children, a conversation about what to do if there is a fire might seem a little scary. You don’t want to scare them, but don’t avoid talking about it either. Utilize Children’s fire safety videos that make learning the plan seem fun and less scary! With kids, when there’s music, it’s always more fun.
When your family comes together to develop a plan, everyone is more likely to remember it because they were a part of planning it. Here are 7 steps to creating a family fire safety plan:
1. Smoke Detectors
Make sure you have smoke detectors throughout your entire house and that they all are interconnected so that all of the alarms will go off as soon as one alarm detects smoke.1 It’s important to check your smoke detectors regularly.
2. Two Ways Out of Every Room
Every room in the house should have at least two exit routes included in the plan by using doors and windows. This is an important time to discuss when you should use the door or window to escape. For example, if you’re in a bedroom and the smoke is coming from the hall, shut the door to the bedroom and go out the window. By shutting the door, less smoke comes into the room so you can safely exit out the window.1
3. Window Escape Safety
When using the window to escape, make sure that everyone knows ahead of time how to unlock and open the windows. Practice it! If the window is not on ground level, make sure there in a fire escape ladder to use. You can purchase a foldable emergency exit ladder that can be stored in the closet of the room. It’s compact, so it doesn’t take up space and it’s easy to use.
4. The Meeting Place
It’s very important that you have a meeting place outside of the home that everyone is going to go to. This could be at the end of the driveway by the mailbox or a neighbor’s house. Just make sure that the meeting place is a safe distance away from the home.
5. Do You Need an Exit Buddy?
If there are small children or someone in the home that cannot exit on their own, it’s important to include in your plan who will be responsible for helping each person or child out of the home and how they will get to that individual.1 Have a back-up person that will be responsible for helping in case the original helper is not home at the time.
6. Pet Safety
Do you have a family pet? If the pet is in the same room, bring them out with you. You can also train your pet and work on drills with your pet like you do the family on what to do if they hear the alarm.2 When the alarm goes off, your pet will know where to go to exit with you. As hard as this may seem, do not delay your exit to try and find your pet.
Instead, you should exit and tell a firefighter immediately that there is still a pet inside and they’ll take it from there. You can also purchase pet emergency window clings that you can write the number of pets and their description on the cling so emergency responders will know that there are pets inside. This can be helpful if a fire starts when no one is home.
7. Do Not Go Back In
Once you have exited the home, go to the meeting spot and call 911 if they have not already been alerted. Do not go back inside the home. Only a firefighter should go into the home.
Practice the Plan
Now that you have the plan all figured out. It’s time to practice it. When doing a practice fire drill, it’s important to note that you can use the ‘Test’ feature on your smoke detectors to set a practice drill. Pretend to call emergency responders but do not actually call them when doing an at home fire drill.
The first few fire drills you have at home, it’s a good idea to have them during the day and talk through the plan before you do the drill. Practice the drill in different settings, such as being in the main living areas of the home as well as re-enacting if it were night time and everyone was asleep.
Once you have practiced the drill several times during daytime, try a fire drill at night. Before everyone goes to sleep that night, make sure that everyone knows that there will be a fire drill later in the evening and go over the plan again as a reminder. Having a surprise fire drill in the middle of the night could be traumatic. It’s ok to know that it’s just a drill but pretend that it’s real.
With HomeFirst® protection, your homeowner’s insurance help protect your home and belongings. The most important thing to us is that you and your family get out of the home safely! We care about you and want you to be safe. A part of that safety is having a plan in place and knowing how to prevent possible fires.
1 "How to Make a Home Fire Escape Plan." NFPA. Accessed July 11, 2019. https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Staying-safe/Preparedness/Escape-planning.
2 "Pet Fire Safety." American Red Cross. Accessed July 11, 2019. https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire/pet-fire-safety.html.