It’s the middle of the night. You’re sound asleep when suddenly the smoke alarms in your house go off. It’s dark. The house is filling with smoke. Fire experts say you have about two minutes to get out safely. Would you and your family know what you should do?
According to Ready.gov, each year more than 2,500 people die and 12,600 are injured in home fires in the United States. To protect yourself, it is important to understand the basic characteristics of fire. Fire spreads quickly; there is no time to gather valuables or make a phone call. In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.
Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Inhaling the super-hot air can sear your lungs. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Fire experts agree that people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home. However, many Americans (62 percent) mistakenly believe they have at least five minutes to escape and about 18 percent believe they have ten minutes or more to get out. It is extremely important for families to plan ahead and create a fire escape plan before the unthinkable happens.
Create and Practice a Fire Escape Plan
In the event of a fire, remember that every second counts, so you and your family must always be prepared. Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly. You may want to consider mapping out your plan and making copies for your entire family. (CLICK HERE for a copy of a grid you may want to use to create your map.)
Twice each year, practice your home fire escape plan. Some tips to consider when preparing this plan include:
- All members of the household should know two ways to get out of every room.
- If the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need a second way out. A secondary route might be a window onto a neighboring roof or a collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows. Learn how to operate a collapsible ladder and store them near the window.
- Only purchase collapsible ladders evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
- Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be properly opened.
- Windows and doors with security bars must have quick release devices to allow them to be opened immediately in an emergency. Make sure everyone in the family understands and practices how to properly operate and open locked or barred doors and windows.
- Practice waking up to smoke alarms, low crawling, feeling your way out of the house with your eyes closed and meeting outside.
- Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
- Pick a place outside for everyone to meet and make sure everyone knows where it is.
- Practice your home fire drill until everyone in the household can do it in less than two minutes.
- Teach children not to hide from firefighters.
- Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.
We hope your family never experiences the tragedy of a fire in your home. Our goal at RSS is to not only protect your home in the event of a disaster, but to also make sure your family is safe and protected as well. We hope these tips and ideas help you to create your own family fire escape plan so you are properly prepared if you experience an unplanned disaster in your home.
Source: American Red Cross and Ready.gov