Last year we looked at why it was a good idea for the safety of your family to have an escape plan in case of a fire in the home. We felt it was worth revisiting and updating this as there is nothing more important to most people than the safety of their loved ones.
As we mentioned last time, it is important to have the appropriate smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detectors in place, and perhaps a fire blanket in the kitchen. But, what does everyone do if a fire starts, when that alarm goes off? Everyone should know what to do and, particularly for younger members of the family, it is important to practice what to do.
In many homes the bedrooms are located on the top floor, with the main living areas on the ground floor. Often a house fire starts due to an electrical fault* and these often occur in either the main living room – that tangle of cables, sockets and plugs behind the TV – or the kitchen – the hard and frequently used washing machine – and these are on the ground floor. The problem here is that unless you are fortunate enough to live in a large mansion, you are only likely to have one staircase.
Therefore it is important to have more than one means of escape for each member of the family. If your son or daughter is unable to get downstairs due to smoke and fire coming up from below, what is the alternative? It could be out of a window onto a porch roof, or using a chain ladder you have provided. Whatever the alternative, it is essential to ensure everyone is aware of their alternative.
- Draw an escape plan for everyone in the house and discuss it
- Get everyone (yes, even your disgruntled teenager) to practice the escape plan twice a year
- Plan at least two ways of getting out of every room, if possible
- Practice using the different exit routes, so they become familiar
- Get your children familiar with getting out, without you, just in case
- Teach everyone to close doors behind them, as they leave
- Select a safe outside meeting place, for everyone to meet up
If the alarm sounds in your house teach everyone, particularly children, that if there is smoke they have to pass through, that they should keep as low as possible. They should get out and stay out, not returning for possessions or pets. If it is necessary to open a closed door, they should feel the door knob first to see if it is hot as that may indicate there is fire in the room. Call the fire brigade, from outside the home.
* According to government statistics there were 31,200 fires in the home in the last year reported (2013/14), 28,000 of these were accidental. Over 80% were started by an electrical source of ignition.