Fires are by nature unpredictable and as time is rarely on your side in the event of a house fire, creating a fire escape plan can save the lives of everyone in your household.
A fire escape plan should be easy enough for everyone to remember and act on, and the location of the outside meeting place should be easy to get to from your home but at a safe distance from flying embers.
1. Don’t Jump out of Bed
If you awake to a fire, gently roll out of bed and onto the floor.
2. Crawl to the Door
After you roll out of bed, crawl over to your bedroom door. The door acts as a fire insulator from the fire outside your bedroom and should always be kept closed when you’re asleep. Feel the entire door and if it’s hot, do NOT open it but use an alternate escape route.
3. Try the Door
If the door is not hot to the touch, open it gently a few inches at the time as gases from the outside can push against the door and blow it wide open. If the air feels warm, do not go out in the hallway but use an alternate escape route.
4. Instruct your Children
Shout to your children to stay in their rooms with the door closed. Instruct them to open the window no more than three inches from the bottom to avoid drafts which can fan the flames. They can then crouch at the window and breathe in fresh air.
5. How to Crawl to Safety
If you are able to crawl to safety, remember to keep your head no more than two feet off the floor. Heat rises and noxious gases produced by burning materials tend to rise above this height. If possible, cover your nose and mouth with a cloth – preferably wet – and take short, shallow breaths.
6. Outside Ladders Help in Rescue
Have a sturdy ladder that can reach the top level of your home readily available outside; ideally placed in a secure place away from burglars. This will also help the rescuing process of anyone who might be trapped inside.
7. Escape Ladders
Keep an escape ladder secured to the window in each upstairs bedroom and instruct everyone in your home how to use them.
8. Never Jump out of a Window in a Panic
If you need to escape out the window without the use of an escape ladder, gently hang from the sill by your hands to lessen the fall – jumping out of a window may cause severe injuries.
9. Plan Ahead
Planning an escape plan can save lives! Work alternate routes for each family member and review on a regular basis. Quiz your children so you know that they understand the plan.
10. Practice your Fire Escape Plan
Practice, practice, practice. Have monthly practice runs both during the day and during the night to make sure that the escape ladders work and windows are not stuck. But most importantly – make sure that everyone knows exactly what to do in case of a real fire.