How to Make a Home Fire Escape Map and Plan
The holiday season is upon us and that means that Christmas lights are being strung on trees in homes all around the nation. It also means that the fireplace is being lit to bring warmth to winter homes. These things are wonderful signs that the magic of the holidays is practically here. But they're also a little bit dangerous. Hopefully you won't have any problems with your fireplace and Christmas tree this year. But do you know what you'll do if these things cause a fire to break out in your home? More importantly, do your kids know what to do if you have a home fire?
If you haven't already made a home fire escape plan, now is the time to do it. Your family will probably be fine during the holidays but you don't want to wait until it's too late to worry about the "just in case". A home fire escape plan will help you to rest easy knowing that your family knows what to do to get themselves to safety in case there is a fire in the home.
Here is what you need to do to make an effective home fire escape plan:
o Draw out a basic floor map of the rooms in your house. Include all windows and doors.
o Assess the map to determine the best escape routes for your family depending on where they are in the house. For example, if the kids rooms are located closest to the front door, the escape route for the fire will be through that door. If the living room has a sliding glass door and the family is together there when the fire breaks out, this will be the exit. The windows are usually a last resort but should be considered as a means of escape.
o Sit down with the kids and discuss the escape route. There are other aspects to the home fire escape plan but this is the part you want to make sure that they know. Make it easy for them by giving them two routes based on your assessment: the main escape route they'll most likely use (ie, the front door) and the back-up route in case they can't get out that way (ie, the sliding glass door). During this discussion, make sure that you talk about the dangers of fire and the fact that this escape route will help keep the family safe.
o Determine an outdoor meeting place and go over it with the kids. You might all exit in different places and you want to be able to find each other as quickly as possible. Meeting by the mailbox is one example of a planned spot that works for most homes.
o Coordinate the other details with the adults in the family. If more than one adult lives in the home, each should know his/her responsibilities in case of a fire. Someone needs to double-check that the kids got out safely, someone needs to make sure that the pets are safe, someone needs to call 911 and some families like to assign someone to gather together specific valuable items. Make sure that every adult in the home knows what their job is in case of a fire.
o Do a drill. Kids do them in school and you should do them in your home.
You'll want to do everything that you can to prevent fire danger. Be aware during the holiday season that a dry tree and an active fireplace are two main causes of winter home fires. Check them each day and you shouldn't have any problems. But just in case you do, the home fire escape plan can help you out.