Fire prevention is important, and all families should do their best to make sure everyone knows how to keep the house protected from such tragic events. Relying on fire prevention, however, isn’t enough. To practice the best fire safety, you have to know what to do in case a fire actually does occur. You and your family need to know what to do, where to go and who to call. As a parent, it’s up to you to ensure your children are familiar with these things as well.
A fire escape plan should therefore, be written down. Make one that’s specific to your home and use both words and drawings so that everyone can follow along. Writing it down is important for several reasons. It makes it easier for you to understand and evaluate, because by seeing it on paper, especially graphically, you can gauge whether or not it involves the best escape routes or not. It also helps you remember things in the future. Should you forget to have a drill for several months, starting from scratch will only confuse people. Going back to the original inked out plan will keep that confusion from happening.
The end of your fire escape route should be a meeting place. These are absolutely essential to a fire safety plan, because without one, you won’t always be sure who has and hasn’t escaped. You need to be able to tell the fire people whether or not anyone is left in the house and, also, you don’t want to give into the urge of running back in—which you should never do—just because you aren’t sure whether or not others have escaped.
The meeting place needs to be far from the house. Far enough that the fire can’t get to it. That said, it has to be close enough that it is practical. An unattached garage is often a good bet, but a neighbor’s house is just as good. Discuss this with your neighbors while you start preparing your drill, and let them and your family know that the meeting place needs to be outside, not inside the house—their porch, for instance. Otherwise, you won’t be able to quickly scan the area to see if everyone really is accounted for.
If the meeting place is in a garage, or perhaps near a shed, a fire safety kit should be prepared. Remember, if the fire happens in the middle of the night people won’t be dressed as warmly as they should for outside. So, along with emergency numbers and first aid, the kid should include warm clothing and blankets.
Now you have to start practicing the drill. Let your family know how important it is, and practice a lot the first few times. When you do, take a moment to reflect on how well it went and whether or not you should change the route in anyway. Once satisfied that everything is as it should be, remember to practice the drill regularly. Yes, the children will probably grow annoyed with regular fire drills, but fire safety is not about keeping them happy. It’s about keeping them safe.