If there is ever a fire in your home, that will be the worst time to come up with an escape plan. The plan needs to be in place before anything happens. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, after all.
Having an escape plan in place before tragedy strikes will help everyone in the house get to safety. Your ability to get out of a burning home depends on the plan you create, how well you execute this plan and the functionality of the different fire escape tools at your disposal. Fire will spread through a house rapidly, leaving you with scant precious minutes to get out to safety. Learning how to create a fire escape plan and putting it in place can mean the difference between getting out and ending up a statistic. Once you devise a plan, get everyone in the house together and go over it so everyone knows what to do.
Draw a Map of Your House
Before you can plan out an escape route, you will need a map of the house. Any good movie caper will tell you that. Yes, you and your family probably know the house very well and there are no secret escape hatches that you aren’t aware of. However, the purpose of the map is so everyone knows what everyone else is going to do in the event of a fire. Draw every room, hallway, level of the house, and every door, then you can start to lay out the specific routes from each room. Try not to leave any details out either—get it all down on paper. Don’t worry if you aren’t a talented artist or architect; the drawing doesn’t have to be to scale and submitted for approval by the zoning board. There are templates available online to help you draw your house too.
Plan an Escape Route for Every Room
After you make the wonderfully detailed map of your home, it’s time to start laying out the escape routes. For each room, you should plan out two different escape routes. During a fire, heat and smoke could block one of the exits. If there is only one way out, then that person will be in grave danger. Go from room to room and find the most direct route out of it. Ground floor rooms would usually mean the front or back door, or a window. There is little risk when going out of any of these exits. Second-floor rooms prove to be a little more challenging. Going out the door and down the stairs is the first option because it’s the safest. The second choice will be going out the window. From a second floor, there is the risk of injury; however, if you slide out the window and lower yourself down as far as possible, that will lessen the distance that you will drop to the ground. You may also want to invest in some fire escape tools to make this process easier.
Secure Any Tools
If your home has a second- or third-floor living space, then you may want to get some emergency tools in place. The main thing would be a ladder or two. There are collapsible, foldable ladders that you can easily store away for emergencies. You could make a ladder part of an emergency kit that remains in the main closet or keep a kit in the closet of every upstairs bedroom. The kits could include a small hatchet, hammer, or multi-tool that could aid in breaking a window. Heat and smoke can cause wood swell and make the windows hard to open. Further, panic may set in, so it’s best to have something to break the window with. A simple emergency escape kit can be stowed away and forgotten about until the day comes it’s needed.
Establish a Meeting Place
During a house fire, there is an obvious need to get out of the house quickly. The adults in the house should try to make sure everyone is out but that might not always be feasible. Designate a meeting place for everyone once they get out of the house. Pick a spot that is a safe distance from the house but is easy to get to. It could be somewhere as simple as across the street on a corner or a neighbor’s front yard. Upon arriving at this easily accessible spot, do a headscount to make sure you have everyone and they are safe.
Practice the Plan
Having a plan and knowing the plan are two different things. It’s not enough to put a plan on paper—you must practice the plan. After you have it written down, give everyone a copy so they can keep it and put it in their room. Then, practice the plan at least once. Leave everyone to their own devices to try and get out of the house in 15 seconds or less. Ensure you alert everyone of the first run through so they know it’s coming. Then later, you can perform a surprise fire drill. Activate the fire alarm in the house and see how everyone reacts and if they follow the plan. The element of surprise will get their blood pumping and adrenaline up, better simulating their natural reactions in an emergency. Practice the drill until you feel satisfied that everyone knows what to do and how to do it.
For Apartment Dwellers
If you live in an apartment, there are already safety devices and plans in place. All newer buildings come equipped with a sprinkler system that will activate in case of fire. There are also smoke detectors and emergency strobe lights in case the power goes out that will light the way to an exit. Apartment buildings should have their own evacuation plan in place. Ask the building management for a copy of it and put it somewhere safe. Older buildings come equipped with external fire escapes that you can use to get out and on the ground, fast.
As fire remediation contractors, we can help save your home, but unfortunately, not the people who reside within it. As such, we encourage you to take the necessary steps today to create a fire escape plan so you can be ready for anything.