Having a home fire safety plan may save the lives of your family should a fire occur in your home.
The best protection that you will have, second only to fire and smoke detectors, will be that you and those who live with you have a fire plan in place, so that everyone knows what should happen in the event you actually have a fire in your home.
It is particularly important that everyone knows what happens if the fire occurs at night, while everyone is asleep, when most home fire-related deaths occur tragically. By having and regularly practicing your home fire safety plan you can greatly increase the odds that everyone in your home will escape safely in the event of a fire.
The Basics of Your Home Fire Safety Plan Should Include:
- Two exits from every area in your home, particularly the sleeping areas.
- The two best exits from the home, and how to get out
- Knowing how to gain access to the exits (using a fire ladder, break a window and how to do it and etc).
Make sure that there is a place arranged where your family will meet, and that it is far enough away from the home to be safe. Explain well to the children that even if everyone is not there immediately, they do NOT reenter the home.
Your plan should also include some basic education for the home occupants. Install a fire extinguisher on each level of your home. Make sure that everyone in the home knows where the fire extinguishers are located and exactly how they are supposed to be used. Take the children especially outdoors and let them actually use the extinguisher so that they are comfortable with it.
The acronym that we use in our home to explain proper use of the extinguisher is PASS. The letters stand for:
- PULL – pull the pin in the extinguisher
- AIM – Aim the nozzle, or hose of the extinguish at the Base, or just below the flames
- SQUEEZE – The trigger
- SWEEP – Don’t aim at just one place but sweep the extinguisher across the fire base
Also, make sure that your children know the difference between a small fire, that could be put out, such as a fire on the cooking stove, and one in which they should abandon the home and call 911 immediately.
A little education will go a long way toward keeping your families safe at home; make sure that everyone knows your fire safety plan and practice fire drills regularly.
If your home or apartment has upstairs bedrooms, knowing the fire escape route and how to get down safely and quickly is critical.
Top Ten Home Fire Safety Plan Tips:
- Install and regularly test smoke alarms on every level of your home. You should install a smoke alarm in or near every bedroom.
- Install both ionization and photoelectric-type smoke alarms for best protection; some smoke detectors provide dual coverage.
- Test your smoke alarms once a month by pushing the test button until the alarm sounds loudly.
- Take time to formalize your home fire escape plan, sketching out the floor plan of your home, including bedrooms, windows, interior and exterior doorways, stairs, fire escape routes and smoke alarms. Every family member should know and understand the fire escape plan.
- Check windows and doors to be sure they are easily opened and keep stairways and doorways clear of obstructions; you don’t want anything that could potentially slow your family’s exit from the house in case of a fire!
- If you install security bars on your home’s doors and windows, be sure they have quick release latches in order to make it easy and fast to get out in an emergency.
- Plan two escape routes from each room in your home (i.e. door and window if possible) and mark each on your fire escape plan. Planning for bedroom escape routes on upper floors of the home may required the use of a ladder, rope or other means to get down quickly and safely.
- Young children, infants and older people need help exiting the home in case of a fire, so be sure to include in your plans who is to help whom and what special considerations are required; a person who is hearing disabled for example will not hear a normal alarm, so you should purchase special models with a vibrating alarm or strobe lights in this case.
- Your fire escape plan should include a designated meeting place outside the home where all family members gather once they have exited the home; this is crucial to knowing everybody gets out safely or whether someone may still be inside. Once everyone is safely out of the house, use a cell phone or neighbor’s phone to call 911 and do not reenter your home for any reason; it simply is not worth risking your life to try and save pets or personal belongings!
- Remember that practicing your fire safety plan regularly is the only way to be sure everyone knows exactly what to do in case a real fire occurs; woken in the middle of the night in the panic of a home fire, family members will be confused and may not remember what to do unless they have practiced it enough that it becomes almost second nature.
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