September is National Preparedness month and I am super excited to focus on emergency preparedness all month long on the blog.
In the first week, I introduced our theme for the month with this blog post —> 3 Home Emergency Plans Your Family Needs To Create.
That post was an overview of everything we are going to discuss for the month.
But today, I want to talk about creating a fire emergency plan for your family.
This will help you plan and teach your family what to do in the event of a house fire.
Your Family Fire Emergency Plan
Having a house fire is every parent’s nightmare. You never want your family to be in danger and you don’t want to lose your belongings either.
House Fire: An emergency everyone needs to prepare for
As many of you know, we had a house fire in April 2014, while we were out of town on Spring Break. Here is the link if you would like to read more —> When The Unthinkable Happens: Lessons from a House Fire.
I hope no one reading this ever has this happen to them, but just in case it does, I want you and your family to be prepared.
Since we weren’t home, we didn’t have the opportunity to use the fire plan we had made.
But our family was safe and did not have to endure the trauma of living through a house fire. That is truly a blessing for our family.
9 Steps to Making and Implementing a Fire Emergency Plan
1. Involve everyone in making the plan
- This plan includes everyone in your family, so get them all involved in making it.
- You can have kids draw it out and make suggestions during the process.
- The more fun you make it, the more they will remember it when the time comes to take action.
2. Make sure you have smoke alarms installed
- Install smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
- On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in the living areas or near the stairway to the upper level, or both.
- Make sure you have the kind of alarms that when one alarm goes off, they all go off. This will make sure the whole house hears the alarm.
- Make sure to change the batteries as needed.
3. Buy and learn how to use a fire extinguisher
- Make sure you have at least one fire extinguisher in your home.
- Let everyone in the house know where it is in case of fire (under the kitchen sink is a great location).
- Have all adults and teens learn how to use it.
- Using a fire extinguisher may keep a small fire from getting out of hand.
4. Make an exit plan for your house
- Draw a map of your house.
- Let the kids help to keep them involved.
- Identify 2 exits for each room in the house.
- Mark on the map where the fire extinguisher is located.
5. Make sure the exits are clear and doors and windows are easily opened
- Walk around your house and make sure that your map is accurate.
- Make sure there is nothing blocking doorways, which could block an exit in a fire.
- Check all windows to see if you can open them. Sometimes old windows get painted shut or broken. These should be fixed for your family’s safety.
- Purchase or learn how to make ladders for upstairs rooms and keep them in the closet for that room. Have everyone practice using them.
6. Have a meeting place for an emergency
- Discuss with your family where your outside meeting place will be in case of a fire.
- It should be away from the house but still visible so everyone can find it.
- It should not be too far away so everyone can be accounted for when the fire department arrives.
7. Make sure your street numbers are visible for emergency personnel
- I always thought this advice was strange. Can’t they tell where the fire is?
- This advice is not only for fires, but also for health emergencies.
- If you have a curb in front of your house (we don’t here in the country), make sure your house numbers are painted on it with glow in the dark paint.
8. Practice your plan with a home fire drill.
- A plan is only as good as the action it creates.
- So once your family finishes their plan, walk everyone thru what should take place in case of a fire.
- Then wait a week or so and have a fire drill to test their knowledge.
- After that, a yearly fire drill should do the trick to keep them fresh on what to do.
9. Teach children how to call 911 (or the fire department)
- You don’t expect that a child should be home alone to call the fire department.
- But what if their caretaker gets hurt and can’t call for themselves.
- This is a skill that they should know to save themselves and others.
- You can put a large reminder on your refrigerator and show them where it is in case they forget the numbers or get scared.
- Whenever someone is home alone, make sure there is access to a cell phone or landline for emergencies.
8 Tips for what to do when a fire happens
1. If it is a small fire, try to use the fire extinguisher to put it out.
This is only if you feel confident using the fire extinguisher and the fire hasn’t spread yet.
2. When a smoke alarm sounds, get out immediately.
You can ignore this if you burned something while cooking. But if it is the middle of the night, get out as soon as you hear the alarm.
3. Choose the escape route that is the safest.
You have identified 2 exits for each room, so choose the one that has less smoke and/or fire in it.
4. Get low to avoid smoke as you exit.
If you must go thru smoke, get down on your hands and knees and crawl to safety. Smoke rises, so this is the safest place.
5. Close doors behind you to slow down the spread of the fire.
If no one is behind you, close the doors in the rooms you pass thru to slow down the fire.
6. Stop, drop and roll
Kids are taught this in school for a good reason. If your clothes catch on fire, stop where you are, drop on the floor and roll until the fire goes out.
7. Call the fire department from outside your home.
Get out of the house first (if you can) and then call the fire department. If you can’t get out, put a wet towel under the closed door and make the call.
8. Once you are out, stay out.
It is tempting to want to go back into the house for other people or sentimental items, but this only puts more people in danger. The firemen are more equipped for rescues and will have to rescue less people if you don’t go back in to save someone else.
Here is a cute video to show your kids, so they can learn about fire safety basics:
Now that we have identified the hazards, let’s move forward with our plan.
Click on the box below to get the free PDF worksheets to help you put together your family fire emergency plan.
Once you have used the worksheets to write out your plan, plan a family activity where you can go over the plan and what needs to be done to implement it during an emergency.
I know that all of this planning may seem like a waste of time. But if you actually have a house fire (big or small), you will be thankful you took the time to educate your family and help them get through it well.
Here are the links to the other posts in this series for further reading:
Where do you keep your family fire emergency plan? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this post helpful, please share. Thanks!