House fires can happen to any family but with a home fire escape plan, all members of the family can be appropriately prepared should a fire ever start. From the youngest children to the oldest parents or grandparents, everyone should participate in creating and regularly reviewing the escape plan. While you hope to never use this plan, it’s imperative to have one just in case of a fire or even another detrimental emergency where the house must be evacuated.
First, draw a map of your home including all the windows and doors. Draw each floor separate, including only permanent fixtures in the drawing that could get in the way of an escape route. Then, as a group, travel to each room and discuss two ways that the room can be exited quickly and safely. This can include a first floor window or the doorway into the hallway leading to the front or back door. As you visit each room, make sure to check that every member of the family can open every window and door.
In addition to noting the doors and window, also check for a smoke alarm in each room. One per floor isn’t enough to quickly detect fire and warn the entire family for a safe escape. Write down how many, if any, smoke detectors you need. Purchase and install these promptly. Carbon monoxide detectors should also be installed throughout your house, as this gas is virtually undetectable to humans. Having both of these alarms will notify the whole family if there is smoke or monoxide that is dangerous and should instigate the home fire escape plan.
The next step is to choose a central location for everyone to meet after escaping from the house. This place should be easily recognizable by all ages but far enough away from the house that members of the family are out of danger. Somewhere across the street or yards away in the backyard are both good examples of a meeting spot. Mark this spot on your escape plan and walk to it from the house so everyone knows exactly where to go without question or hesitation in the event of an emergency.
When you have finalized your home fire escape plan, make a copy for each family member and keep the original somewhere it can always be seen like on the fridge. It is recommended that the entire family go through the home fire escape plan at least once every 6 months to stay familiar with the routes and meeting places and make any necessary changes. This is especially crucial for families with small children or aging adults. Having an accurate and updated escape plan can help save time, property and most importantly – lives.