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How to Prepare Your Family for a House Fire

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

How angry would you be if you found out that your children were attending a school that never held fire drills?

House on Fire

I would bet that you would probably be very upset.  Fire is about two hundred times more likely to occur while your child is at home than at school.  How many home fire drills have you held?

Home fire drills are an excellent safely measure, and one that is becoming more popular within most families.  Children, especially, are subject to panic and bewilderment in fires.

Psychologists have shown that the only way to prevent panic is to know what you are going to do before a fire happens.  This concept has been proven effective by the fact that thousands of students who have been routinely drilled will calmly walk away from burning school buildings.

With instruction and practice your children can just as calmly escape from a burning house or apartment.  For a home fire drill, follow these important steps:

  • Plan a specific day and time to call the entire family together.  Explain to them that this meeting is so important that everyone is expected to attend without exception. 
  • Explain thoroughly to everyone the dangers of a fire in your home, how to test a door to see if it is hot, and how to notify the fire department.  Make assignments to older members of the family for notifying the fire department, etc. 
  • Using a rough diagram of your house, map out an escape route and an alternate from each room.  A secondary route is especially important in case the primary one is blocked.  Pay very special attention to escape routes from bedrooms.  Discuss these routes in detail with all members of the family and explain why you have chosen these routes.  An example of these routes could be: 1st option a doorway and the 2nd option is a window. 
  • Set an exact meeting place outside of the house for all members of the family to meet so that no one will be tempted to go back for someone who may be already out and safe.  This also gives little children a focus of where to meet rather than have them run and hide somewhere to escape the danger.
  • After completing all of the plans, practice, having everyone participate and learning what to do without question.  Practice drills with different scenarios in how and where a fire might occur.  Run through the drills periodically.  Assign a family member to schedule the drills and make sure they are done.
  • If possible, take your family to the local fire department and have a fireman explain the dangers of fire and what they should do.  Children will often listen to someone else more than they will mom or dad.
  • Teach family members how to operate a fire extinguisher.  Many times we have a fire extinguisher available but no one knows for sure how it works. 
  • As a family, tests all smoke alarms in the house and explain their importance.  Teach children
  • Once you have held your meeting you should make a final map of the house with the approved exits for every room.  Make multiple copies, laminate (or put in a sheet protector) and post on the back of each bedroom door with a few reminders of safety.  This will help children if they become panicked if an emergency occurs.

As a family run through the following questions and analyze your safety habits:

  • Is your furnace checked before each heating season?  Even such a small thing as a weak pilot light in a gas furnace is a hazard.  A yearly check should be made by a professional service man to check for plugged up or worn outlets, clogged strainers, and malfunctioning controls.  Do you change your filter on a regular basis?  A teenager in the household could be assigned to do this.
  • Are you a family of “firebugs?”  Is your housekeeping such that you allow combustibles such as clothing, garbage, paints, and other hazards near fireplaces, heaters, or furnaces?
  • Do you let newspapers stack up?  When left in poorly ventilated places, items such as newspapers, old mattresses in attics, or paint/oily rags can oxidize and become hot enough to produce flames.  The best advice is to keep paint/oily rags in a closed, metal container and do not let rubbish accumulate.
  • Could your iron be a hazard?  Never leave an iron plugged in for even a few minutes unattended.  The thermostat may fail, and if it does, the iron can become a mass of molten metal in just fifteen minutes and ignite the ironing board cover. 
  • Are curling irons and other electric appliances unplugged and put away after use? 
  • Do you put foam rubber items in the dryer?  Stuffed toys, padded brassieres, pillows, etc. containing foam rubber can quickly dry to its igniting point and start a fire inside of a dryer.
  • Do you give your Christmas tree enough water?  When you bring your tree inside, set it up in a stand that has a large receptacle for water and keep replenishing it daily.  A five-foot tree will take about a pint of water a day.  Tests show that a twelve-foot tree goes up in a whoosh of flame in only eighteen seconds.
  • Are your power strips overloaded?  Check all of your electrical plug-ins and make sure that you aren’t overloading your circuits and wiring. 

 Note from the author:  As a family we made the decision to have a “fire prevention” family night.  After talking to the children and explaining the dangers and what causes fires, we presented the fire escape plan.  At that time, we had younger daughters and we had made the decision that we would set up all bedrooms so that they had easy access to windows for their exit.  When we told the girls to break a window to get out they were shocked!  “We can just break our window?”  We then needed to explain to them how they could break a window safely by using a heavy toy and then put a blanket on the glass before getting out.  We never would have known their fears or questions if we hadn’t had the drill.



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