First and foremost let me emphasize how important it is to involve and engage your children in the family discussions and activities regarding fire safety. Let them know it is normal and OK to be scared. Fire is scary. Arm your children with knowledge, tools, and confidence so they will act even when they are afraid.
- Purchase escape ladders for each upper level bedroom. Two story KL-2S and three story KL-3S models available. They can be purchased at home centers and Amazon. These ladders range in price from $30-$75 each.
- Purchase fire extinguishers for each level of your home -5lb minimum size. For the purpose of a FEP fire extinguishers are for clearing a path for escape and NOT for putting out the fire.
- Purchase and properly install smoke detectors. I recommend interconnected smoke /carbon monoxide detectors with voice alerts. All interconnected detectors will go into alarm if any one detector senses smoke or carbon monoxide. They are wireless and easy to install. Test monthly and change batteries twice a year – during Daylight Saving time changes.
Create the Fire Escape Plan (FEP) with your children and everyone living in the home.
- Draw out the floor plan of your home – all floors and basement
- Identify two escape routes from each room
- Make sure doors and windows open easily and everyone knows how to operate them.
- Walk the escape paths with everyone
- Identify a meeting place outside the home. Everyone will meet at this spot.
- Practice your plan and practice using escape ladders (from a 1st floor window)
- Conduct fire drills every month. Actually set off your smoke alarms and execute your fire escape plan. You may look silly to your neighbors, but your family will be safe
- Practice with lights out and/or blind folded. Smoke is thick and dark and will impair your vision. Practice crawling the escape routes as well. You may have to crawl below the smoke during your escape.
- Have your kids explain the fire escape plan to their friends sleeping over.
Your Fire Escape Plan must include quick access to a cell phone and car keys at an egress point to take outside with you. Always keep one vehicle outside of an attached garage. Also consider keeping a backpack in that car with a change of clothes and flipflops/slippers/shoes for each family member.
There is no time to grab necessities on your way out. You only have 3 minutes to escape the fire before toxic fumes and gases reach fatal levels. In 5 minutes the smoke and heat will sear your lungs and your home will be filled with deadly thick dark smoke – you are no longer able to breathe or see. Your home will be fully engulfed in flames within ten minutes.
ESCAPE QUICKLY AND NEVER GO BACK INSIDE A BURNING HOME to retrieve valuables, keepsakes, or pets!
Call 911 after everyone is out of the building safely and at the designated meeting place. Put kids in their carseats while you wait for emergency personnel to ensure they don’t return to the house.
Guest post by Thomas Bryant, a licensed Fire Protection professional