Your ability to escape a fire safely largely depends on having an effective plan in place. Having smoke detectors installed is great but if a fire does happen, do you and everybody else in the home understand what to do?
I hope you never need to use your fire escape plan other than practice but if you do, you can ensure that you keep your family safe.
Gather the Family
When you start to create your fire escape plan, it is important that you do so with all that live in the property, including any children. This will ensure that everybody fully understands what to do and where to go should the worst happen. If there are any elderly people in the property, or those with special needs, extra thought must be taken on how the escape will be implemented.
Create a Map
When making a map of the home, be sure to include all walls, stairs, doors, and windows. Clearly label all exits on the map to better determine primary and alternative exits.
Take a walk throughout the property, going through each room and finding two possible ways out of each, including windows and doors.
In a lot of cases, the smoke detectors will raise the alarm before anybody else is aware of a fire. Make sure that everybody understands, if the smoke detectors go off, they must evacuate immediately.
If you find that during a fire, your planned escape routes are blocked with no possibility of safely leaving the property, close all doors that are between you and the fire. Place a towel under the door and go to an exterior-facing window. Immediately call the fire department to report your location.
Where to Meet
If you need to evacuate the property because of a fire, knowing where to meet up is crucial. This location should be somewhere at the front of the property so that emergency responders can immediately see you when they arrive. Never go back in to a burning building once you have left.
There is nothing funny about a real fire and so when practicing your plan, do so as if a real fire was happening. Practice regularly (at least every six months), to ensure that it stays fresh in the minds of every family member. This will also help to stop panic from setting in should the worst ever happen.
If you do ever find a fire in the home, get everyone out, shut all doors to help slow the spread, and call the emergency services.
If You Can’t Use the Escape Routes
You may be able to escape through a window if it is on the ground floor. Only escape from a first floor window as a last resort. If you have to choose this option, there are few steps you can take to keep you and the children from serious harm:
- Cushion your fall with bedding, pillows and anything soft
- Don’t jump, lower yourself by the arms from the window ledge
- If there are two adults, one should go down first to catch children while the other should lower the children as far as possible before letting them drop
It may be worth investing in a fire safety ladder for your own piece of mind.
If you Can’t Escape Through a Window
You need to keep safe together in the building. Choose a room – you may have agreed this in your escape plan – with a window and a phone. Shut the door and seal it with bedding/cushions to block out the smoke. Open the window and call for help, lean out if you need to breathe and keep drawing attention to yourself.