Preparing a Family Fire Escape Plan

Fires in homes can spread very quickly, so it’s important to prepare your kids and have a family plan in place in case a fire starts. 

When it comes to fire safety, prevention and preparation are key. To learn more about the top fire risks in your home and how best to prevent fires, check out our fire prevention blog post. Even if you minimize your family’s fire risk, you should also prepare your children by talking about fire safety and having a family fire escape plan in place. 

Fire Education for Kids

Teaching your kids about different fire scenarios and what to do may seem like a scary topic for kids, but it could save their lives. Here’s some important rules to teach them starting around age 3: 

  1. If there’s a fire, get out of the house. If they hear a smoke alarm or see a fire, even if it’s small cooking fire, teach your child to call for adult help and run outside. 
  2. Don’t stop. Teach your kids to get themselves out of the house and not to stop for pets, toys, or other possessions. 
  3. Test door knobs for heat. Kids should tap door knobs with the back of their hand to test if it’s hot. If the knob is hot, a fire is on the other side, and they should not open the door. 
  4. Crawl on the ground in smoky rooms. If they must move through a smoky room, they will find cleaner air near the ground. Have them practice crawling to escape smoke. 
  5. Don’t go back in. Once your child is out of the house, they should know they should not go back in the house for any reason. Firefighters know how to safely enter a burning house and have the best chance of saving any pets or people still trapped. 
  6. Stop, drop, and roll: This catchy phrase continues to be great advice for what to do if they catch on fire. Teach kids not to run (the fire on their body will only spread faster), but to stop, drop to the ground, and then roll around while covering their face with their hands. Their body can then be cooled with water. Practice this technique at home. 

Creating a Family Fire Escape Plan

Creating a family fire escape plan is just as important as fire education. If you create a plan together and practice it, your kids will know exactly what to do if a fire breaks out. Once you use the steps below to create a plan, make sure you practice it at least twice a year. 

Find an Exit: Walk around your house with your family. Stop in each room and talk about where the exits are and how to escape if there’s a fire. Is there a door or window? Do they know how to open the window or remove the screen? If you live in an apartment building, teach kids to use the stairs and avoid the elevators. 

Who Needs Help: If you have a special needs child, or your child is under 5, you’ll need to make sure your fire escape plan accommodates their abilities, including having a parent rescue them. 

Family Meeting Place: If there’s a fire, you’ll want everyone to gather in one place to make sure everyone is accounted for. Choose a spot outside your home, such as a tree, mail box, or light post, that everyone knows to meet once they leave your house. 

How to Call 911: Talk to your kids about how to dial 911 in an emergency, whether with a cell phone or a neighbor’s phone. Help them memorize your address and even practice making a pretend call.

Making Sure Babysitters and Caregivers are Prepared

Don’t forget to share your plan with any babysitters or caregivers so they know what to do in case of a fire. Make sure they are aware of any fire risks in the house and where you keep your fire extinguishers. Also, make sure they know not to leave young children alone unattended, especially near any fire hazards. 

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