A guest post by Maire Hunter
A fire in the home is a nightmare scenario most people can't even imagine. But as scary as it is to think about, every family needs to talk about how to respond to a house fire, and how to get out quickly.
The following tips can help you and your family develop an emergency plan, so everyone knows what to do, should a fire occur in your home.
Identify evacuation routes
During a fire, pathways out of the home may be blocked, and smoke can be disorienting and make it hard to see where you’re going. Plan a fire evacuation plan for every room and stage your own fire drills from time to time.
You won’t always be able to just walk out the door. Always feel the door and door handle – if the doorknob is hot to the touch, don’t open the door; exit through the window instead. If you live in a two-story home, make sure you have special fire protection equipment like escape ladders, so everyone can safely climb out the windows.
Explain how to handle smoke
Remind everyone that smoke rises, so the cleanest, safest air will be close to the floor. When smoke is present, drop to your hands and knees to avoid smoke inhalation.
Establish an outside meeting place
Once outside, everyone needs to meet quickly so that they can figure out who might be stuck indoors. As part of your emergency preparedness plan, decide where you will meet, if you have to evacuate; it should be a location that's a safe distance away from the home.
Stock fire blankets in your home
Fire blankets can be a great asset – they are made from flame-resistant materials and treated with chemicals to further resist fires. These blankets can be used to protect people or objects, or they can be put over a fire to smother it. It might be worth stocking up on some of these fire blankets and storing them in an accessible part of your home.
Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen
Many house fires begin in kitchens, and you can prevent those small fires from becoming disastrous if you have a fire extinguisher. Teach your family how to use the fire extinguisher, and make sure everyone understands when to try to put out a fire, and when to evacuate.
Ideally, no family will ever have to make use of an emergency fire plan. But there's no telling when disaster can strike, and having a plan in place will help you and your family safely exit your home during a frightening situation. Schedule a time to talk about fire safety and create a plan together.