Designing a Fire Escape Plan For the Family
The chances of surviving a fire are greater if you are prepared. A fire escape plan is essential to that preparation. Before developing one, be certain you have done everything to prevent a fire.
To create a fire escape plan, do the following:
- Include the entire family in your preparations.
- Draw a floor plan of your home or apartment. Be sure to mark all doors and windows.
- Map out two escape routes from every room. If one way is blocked by smoke or fire, you can use the second.
- Purchase chain ladders for exiting from above the first floor.
- Make sure that windows can be quickly opened in the event you must exit a fire.
- Discuss and agree on what to do with a pet if a fire breaks out. You may not have time to save your pet.
- Plan an outside meeting place where family members can gather after escaping from a fire. Go to your designated meeting place and stay put. Once out, stay out! DO NOT GO BACK INSIDE. Invisible toxic gases can kill you. If a family member or a pet is trapped, let the fire department rescue them.
- Plan to call the fire department from a neighbor’s home.
- Hold family fire drills, and practice how to exit in case of fire.
You wake up in the night to the constant, loud beeping sound of your smoke detector. It is pitch black. You can see and smell smoke all around you. Do you know what to do?
During a fire emergency, how well you and your family know E.D.I.T.H. (Exit Drills In The Home) can mean the difference between life and death. Too often people panic in such emergencies because they do not know what to do. You and your family should make a fire escape plan to ensure that everyone gets out quickly and safely.
- Practice your exit plan until it is automatic. Then practice again at least twice a year. Too often families make plans and then put them away in a drawer or old filing cabinet. When fire occurs, you will not have time to search for them.
- Know what to do when you hear the alarm! When you are in your room and you hear a smoke alarm go off – or someone yelling “Fire!” or “Smoke!” – you have only a few minutes to get outside. Don’t waste time checking to see if it’s a false alarm. Treat all alarms as real; act immediately.
- Get down on the floor and crawl low. Both heat and smoke rise, so if you stay between 12 and 36 inches off the floor, you will be safer from high heat and toxic fumes.
- Check the door before opening. Look for smoke seeping around the door frame. Feel the door with your hand. If you have a solid door, it will be hot to touch if there is fire on the other side.
- Open doors slowly and carefully. Be very cautious. Even if you have checked the door, there could still be fire on the other side. When you open the door, put your head down and tilt your face away from the opening. Open the door just a little so that it will be easy to close if you detect fire.
- Close doors behind you. Remember that closed doors slow the flow of oxygen to the fire and give you added time to escape.
- Learn how to escape through windows. If you are on the first floor, exit the window feet first. Grab the window ledge, hang down as far as you can, then jump. Do not exit a window higher up without a ladder unless it is your last resort.
- Do not use an elevator. If you live in a high-rise, locate the fire escape and use it. A fire can disable the elevator and you could be trapped.
- Make sure that someone is assigned to help young children and older family members.