If a fire broke out in your house do you know how much time your family would have to get out? Two minutes. Not five minutes, not four minutes, just two small minutes. This leaves you with almost no time to think about how to get everyone out of each room, much less decide on a meeting place outside. Less than half of parents have talked to their kids about fire safety, only one third of families have identified a safe meeting place outside their home and less than 1 in 5 families have practiced at-home fire drills.
We hope a tragedy such as a home fire never happens to us, but should an unfortunate event occur, nothing saves more lives than being prepared. Taking an afternoon to discuss your family’s fire plan with your kids could mean the difference between life and death. Here’s what you need to do.
1. Everyone should know at least two ways to get out of every room. That could mean a door, window or even a skylight. If you have a two-story home, discuss which window would be the safest to climb out of, and consider escape ladders stored near windows.
2. Choose a safe place outside your home for everyone to meet. Actually go there as a family, so it’s clear that everyone knows exactly where this spot is. If you have very young children, point out the safe space every time you pass by.
3. Practice, practice, practice. Do a family fire drill as many times as it takes until everyone can get out of the house in under two minutes. Simulate waking up to smoke alarms, low crawling and meeting in the safe space.
4. Show children how to dial 9-1-1. If you do not have a LAN line in your home, teach them how to use the Emergency feature on your cell phone.
5. Teach everyone how to stop, drop and roll should their clothes catch on fire.
To assist your family in a fire safety plan, the Red Cross has made a printable worksheet to help you practice safe home evacuations. You’ll rest easier know that you and your children are prepared should the unthinkable happen.