Step 1: Create Your Home Fire Escape Plan
You see them posted on the wall of commercial buildings. Typically, right next to the fire extinguisher.
Bring everyone in your home together to make a plan
The first thing you should do is create a floor plan of your home. You can do this easily with our fire escape grid that you can download free here.
Once you have the drawing of your home’s floor plan, gather everyone in your house to make a plan.
Walk through each room and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. This should include all of your windows and doors.
Ideally, you should identify at least two possible exits. Sometimes that’s obviously impossible. But for rooms where it is possible, make a note of at least two.
Step 2: Create a Meeting Area
You probably remember in school when there was a fire drill, we’d all meet at a specific area outside.
This could be at a neighbor’s house, a light post, a mailbox, stop sign. It doesn’t matter what it is, just make sure that it is a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they’ve escaped.
Be sure to mark this information on the escape plan.
Step 3: Test the Plan
I’m a big fan of the scientific method.
We use it a lot for ideas in Patriot Chimney. And it can be used for your fire escape plan too.
The scientific method is this: Ask a question, form a hypothesis, and test. If the test fits the hypothesis, then you have a good method.
If not, try again.
We’ve already asked the question – what is the best route in the event of a fire?
Now it’s time to form a hypothesis. This is where you are drawing your idea of the best escape plan.
Once you have the hypothesis, move on to testing. The best way about this is to test twice a year, making the drill as realistic as possible!
Yes, that also means doing it at night when everyone is asleep….
What you’re trying to do here is prove your hypothesis WRONG.
I know you might think this seems counterintuitive. But by proving it wrong, and having a critical mindset, you can actively try to poke holes in your theory.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Make arrangements for people with disabilities. Consider having a “buddy system” where they’ll have a partner of some sort assigned to them to make sure they are taken care of.
- If you have two stories (or more) everyone needs to escape from the second floor rooms. You should buy an Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) approved collapsible ladder to escape from the upper story windows.
- Always choose an escape route that is safest. The one with the least amount of heat and smoke. But be aware that sometimes you may have to escape through smoke if necessary. So keep low, even when it’s just drill.
In the event that a fire prevents you from escaping your home, practice “sealing” yourself in your room for safety as part of your fire escape plan.
Here’s what that entails:
- Close all the doors between you and the fire.
- Use duct tape and/or towels to seal the door and crack. And cover the air vents to keep smoke from coming in.
- Open the windows in the room to let fresh air in.
- Call the fire department and report exactly where you are.
- Wave a flashlight or a light-colored piece of cloth at the window to alert the fire department where you are.
The important part is that you need to have your hypothesis tested before it’s game time. Before you have a fire.
- Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room. Based on NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code, all smoke alarms should be interconnected. This means if one sounds, they all sound.
- Keep the escape routes clear from obstructions
- Make sure your house number is visible.
- Memorize the emergency phone number of the fire department
- Assign someone to assist those with mobility limitations.
- If your windows have security bars, make sure they also have an emergency release button that you press.
- Always remember the stop-drop-and roll if your clothes cath fire.
- Replace the fire alarms that are older than 10 years
- Change the batteries in the smoke alarms every 6 months
- Test the smoke alarms once a month
House fires are scary. And being caught in a house fire is terrifying.
But luckily, with some planning and testing, you can help keep you and your family safe from potential catastrophe.
Share with us your home’s fire escape plan in the comments below.