As someone who is terrified of fire, both prevention and a fire safety plan are at the forefront of my mind just about every day. However, recent events have me thinking about it even more than ever.
See, a couple of weeks ago, my in-laws lost their entire home in a freak fire that started in their garage. By the time the fire company arrived (which was really pretty fast), everything was gone. It took ten fire trucks to put it out. Even their car, which was in the driveway, melted to the point that it had to be totaled.
My in-laws are not irresponsible people. They keep up with maintenance on all their appliances. They don’t leave candles burning (I don’t think they even use them), or overload power strips. They do everything right. If their home can catch on fire, it can happen to anyone.
That’s why, along with being smart about prevention. it is SO important to have a fire escape plan. I’m proud to partner with First Alert to bring you some great tips on how to be a Super Prepared Family.
Tips for Creating an Effective Fire Escape Plan
1. Make sure everyone can understand it!
First things first, in order to have an effective plan, you need to make sure it works for all ages in your home. For example, if you have a young child, you’ll need to tailor it to fit their age and understanding levels. The best way to do this is to involve everyone in the process. First Alert recommends finding two ways out of EACH room, be it a door or a window.
In my home, it’s just me, my mom, and my now-teen son, so developing a plan is fairly straight-forward. We don’t have a large home, but we have three potential exits: the front door, the sliding glass door on the back, and a door on the side deck.
2. Pick a meeting place
For us, we would meet out front in the road. My house has a long driveway, and we live on a cul-de-sac, so it’s the safest and easiest place for us to remember. If you live on a busy street, you might want to pick something like “the light post in front of Fred’s house” or something else that’s easy for everyone to remember.
It’s important to pick one spot because you want to be able to tell firefighters “yes, it’s all clear” or “please help my son, he’s still in there!”
3. Memorize the phone number for the fire department
For most of us, calling 911 is the fastest and easiest way to get help. Still, if you live in a town where it’s faster to just call the fire department’s emergency line, make sure everyone knows the number “by heart.”
4. Get out and stay out!
Make sure that everyone understands that once they’re out, they need to stay out. Do not run back into the house for ANY reason. If you realize that someone is missing (including your family pet), tell the firefighters. They are better equipped to rescue anyone still stuck inside. Just about every firefighter I’ve ever met has included family pets in their rescue efforts, so don’t feel like you have to go back in or risk losing them forever.
5. Practice makes perfect
Remember how we used to have fire drills at school every couple of months? Well, you need to do the same thing at home! Practice your plan at least twice a year and make any necessary adjustments.
An Ounce of Fire Prevention…
You know the saying: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure? Well, an ounce of fire prevention is worth your entire home’s worth of a cure, if that makes sense.
When it comes to preventing fires, smoke alarms are your best friends. Here are some guidelines to make sure your alarms are ready to help keep your family safe. For more information about fire safety from the First Alert Super Prepared Family, click here.
1. Make sure your whole home is covered
It’s not enough to just put up an alarm in your kitchen and call it a day. You need to make sure you have the recommended number of alarms. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends an alarm IN every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, on every level, and in the basement. They also recommend putting a carbon monoxide alarm on each level and in each bedroom. In my 3-bedroom split-level house, that means I need at least five smoke alarms and four CO alarms.
Fortunately, First Alert sent me four 10-Year Combination Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms, so I just needed one more (which I have from last year).
2. Make sure everyone can hear the alarms when they’re sleeping
Wondering why just putting an alarm on each level isn’t good enough? Well, here’s one of the reasons: not everyone can hear it! If you have a deep sleeper like my son, there’s a chance they may not hear the alarm down the hall going off.
3. Test your alarms monthly & replace as needed
Even though the First Alert combination alarm has a 10-year lifespan, you still need to check it regularly. It has a handy “test” button right on the front, so it takes just a few minutes to check every alarm in the house. If you’re not using the 10-Year Combination alarm, you’ll need to replace your smoke alarms every 10 years and your CO alarm every 5-7 years.
4. Dust them off and replace the batteries every 6 months
In the past, we were told to change the batteries when the clocks changed. However, since Daylight Savings Time months have changed a bit (it’s not exactly 6 months between clock changes now), you should make sure you’re doing it every six months. Pick two dates that you’ll remember, or put a note on your calendar.
If your alarm has a sealed battery compartment (like the First Alert combo alarm), you don’t need to swap out the batteries. Just make sure to dust off the alarm and test it out.
What does your family do to be a Super Prepared Family? Tell me below!