Home Escape Plan
In the event of an emergency it is crucial to have a home escape plan (PDF). Take a few moments to map out your escape routes for your family and then practice to be ready for any unforeseen emergency. Draw each room and where it is located in your home, then draw at least two ways out of each of those rooms just in case one of your exits is blocks. Remember to designate a safe meeting place outside of your home for everyone to meet. Practice! Practice! Practice! It could save a life.
The following are some activities and pointers to consider for your Home Escape Plan.
- Simply draw a picture of each individual floor in your home. Don't worry about the size of the rooms, they don't have to be exact.
- Label all of the rooms, especially the bedrooms. Make sure that everyone knows where the doorways, windows, and hallways are located.
Let's Check Those Windows
- Ask your parents to help you choose the best window in each room to use as a backup escape route or maybe you only have one window in each bedroom, just in case the door and hallways are blocked by heat, smoke, and or fire. Make sure that you could easily open the window if there was ever an emergency.
- If the bedroom is above ground level, ask your parents if there is a rooftop that is safe enough for you to crawl out on, or if you have an escape ladder that you could use with their help.
- Decide on a meeting place.
- A meeting place is a safe spot outside - usually in front of your home - where your family knows to meet if there's ever a fire. It could be a mailbox, a big tree, a streetlight, whatever you choose as long as everyone knows where the chosen spot is.
Get Out The Markers!
- All right, let's get drawing! With a black marker, pen, or crayon draw the exit you normally use out of each room. Don't stop yet! Keep drawing your route until you're safely out of the house. Make note of what you would do along the way if your exit suddenly became blocked by heat, smoke, and or fire.
- Now with a red marker, draw your emergency escape route. In most rooms this secondary exit would be a window.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Have a fire drill with your family, just like you would at school. Let's pretend that the fire happens at night. Have everyone go into their bedrooms - doors closed - and then have mom or dad press the test button on the smoke alarm. Practice opening windows, taking off screens and, if on a second story, using ladders. This is especially important for children, who may have trouble working window locks or collapsible ladders without practice. Make sure there are no security bars on bedroom windows - or if there are, make sure they can be opened and closed easily. Keep bedroom doors closed at night and teach family members how to feel the door before opening it if the smoke detector goes off. To check for heat, place the back of your hand on the door, start at the bottom of the door and work up it as high as possible. Then place the back of your hand on the doorknob (metal conducts heat better than wood - if there's any heat outside the door, you should be able to feel it). If you don't feel heat, crack open the door, staying low, and check for smoke. If smoke is present, use your other way out.
Round 1 Game
For the first drill, have everyone pretend to check their door for smoke and heat, and then crawl out of the house through the exits you normally use, like doors and hallways. Have everyone go to the meeting place.
Round 2 Game
For the second drill, let's pretend the bedroom doors are hot, and your exit is blocked by smoke and fire. Now get everyone to test his or her secondary exit. Don't worry, if you're too small, or if going out on a rooftop is too dangerous for your age, you don't have to actually escape out of the house. As long as you know what to do, and how to escape through your secondary exit that's fine!
Have a Home Fire Escape Plan to get your family out of your home if there is a fire.
Although a smoke alarm should warn you when there is a fire, you still need to get your family out. Does everyone in your family know what to do, how to get out of the house and where to go? Make sure there are working smoke detectors are located outside of all sleeping areas.
A home fire escape plan is especially important because recent reports have shown that smoke alarms may not wake up all sleeping children.
As part of your home fire escape plan, you should figure out two ways to escape from each part of your home. This is important because your most obvious exit may be blocked by the fire. Do you have a ladder to get out of second floor windows? Lower your children down through a window before escaping yourself. They may be too scared to escape if you go first and then motion for them to come down.
Making a drawing of each floor plan may be helpful for younger kids. You should also have a plan for how each family member is going to get out. While older children and teens can likely be responsible for their own escape, younger kids, elderly family members and anyone with a disability may need help escaping. Designating a 'buddy' to give assistance to those who need it can help to make sure that everyone gets out safely.
Lastly, plan a place outside the home where everyone is supposed to meet once they get out.