How to Make a Home Fire Escape Plan for Your Family
I am embarrassed to say that my family and I did not have an emergency escape plan until this past week, and I’m not alone because only 43% of families have a fire escape plan, while 33% have not even discussed fire safety with their families. With two young girls, this had been on my to-do list for far too long, and I’m happy to say we finally put a plan together.
When I told my oldest daughter we were going to make a home fire escape plan, she got a little nervous. No one likes talking about the worst that can happen, but I explained to her how important it is. Just because we make a plan does not mean there will be a fire, but we will be prepared and ready. I don’t intend to scare all of you with this post, my hope this will inspire you to create a plan with your family.
How to Plan for a Fire:
Draw a map.
Use this free fire escape sheet, from First Alert, to draw a map of your home showing all the doors and windows. Be sure to include the whole family in this process, so in the event of an emergency, everyone knows the exits and where to meet outside.
The escape plan.
Come up with a real plan that will work for your home. What are the ages of your kids? Are they old enough to get out on their own, or will they need help? Because we have a 3-year-old, my husband and I made plans for which parent will grab my youngest daughter, with a backup plan if one of us is unable to get her. Even with this plan set up, we are still teaching both kids how to get out on their own.
Plan for two exits.
We have planned for two exits from each room. We drew up a map from each bedroom door to the nearest exit. If the doorway is blocked, the second option is to exit through the window.
Where to meet once outside?
Set up a place outside where the family will meet. Designating a specific location to meet means you get to do a headcount to know who is there and who might be missing. Once you find yourself outside, call 911. If you don’t have your cell phone, call from a neighbor’s home.
Plan. Practice. Repeat.
They say practice makes perfect, and it’s true. Run the fire escape drill with your kids multiple times. We plan on practicing at least twice a year (at night and during the day).
More fire safety tips for kids (and adults, too).
- When the smoke alarm sounds, follow the family escape plan and DO NOT go back into the home for people or pets.
- No material item is worth saving on the way out.
- In a fire emergency, get low and crawl under the smoke to the nearest planned exit and close doors behind you as you leave.
- We’re teaching our kids to lightly touch door handles before grabbing them. If the handle is hot, use the second exit option through the window.
While a home fire escape plan is paramount, so is having the necessary protection installed in your home.
We were excited to receive a First Alert Emergency Escape Planning Kit to get us started on our fire safety journey. It included a First Alert Smoke & CO alarm, a fire extinguisher, and a First Alert Ladder. Below I’ve shared where The National Fire Protection Association recommends placing your fire safety tools.
- Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home (including the basement) and inside and outside of each bedroom.
- Carbon monoxide alarms should also be on each level, and near each sleeping area.
- Fire extinguishers should be on each level, especially near the kitchen.
- A fire escape ladder should be kept on the second level. Our home does not have a second level, but one room is a little high from the ground, and we plan to keep our ladder there.
I have to say going through this whole process with my family has helped tremendously. It’s like a weight is off my shoulders because I know we have prepared ourselves. If you’d like some more info about creating an escape plan, First Alert has a lot of tips on their website.
Do you and your family have a plan for fire safety? I’d love to hear what you’ve done with your home.
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Fire safety info source: First Alert Research Report, June 2016 – Results are based on the responses of 1,000+ adult homeowners, ages 25 and older, living in the United States.