Family Escape Plans
There have been numerous cases where firefighters have found children hiding under a bed or in a closet during a house fire. While many adults would assume that children would try to escape a fire, the reality is that fire, smoke and a sounding alarm can be very frightening to children and can paralyze them in place.
North Metro Fire Rescue District works to teach kids the importance of getting out of the house when the smoke alarm beeps. According to the National Fire Protection Association, roughly half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are asleep. Families only have a matter of minutes, and sometimes seconds, to get out of the house before fire and smoke take over.
Although North Metro Fire provides education through school programs and community events, parents can play an even larger role in teaching their children how to get to safety during a fire. Here are some tips to help prepare your family to be ready in case of an emergency:
Develop a fire escape plan
- Draw a map of your home showing all the doors and windows.
- Visit each room and have your children find two ways out.
- Ensure that all windows and doors can be opened easily.
- Make sure there are smoke alarms installed in and immediately outside of each sleeping room and on every level of your home.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are properly working. Smoke alarms should be tested each month, and batteries should be replaced every six months.
- Pick a meeting place outside in front of your home for everyone to meet at after evacuating the home. If a child is home alone, stress the importance of him/her getting out of the house first and calling 911 from a neighbor’s house.
- Practice your home fire escape plan at least twice a year.
While it may be unsettling at first, you should try testing your smoke alarm during the middle of the night to see how your children respond. Did they wake up to the beeping sound? Did they run out the door? When you do your fire escape drills, try timing them to see how quickly everyone can get out of the house. Practice putting up barricades that require your family members to find alternate routes out of the house. For younger children, have a play phone outside and have them pretend to call 911 and recite your address. This is important if there was any type of emergency at home, and your child needed to alert the police or fire district. The more planning and practicing you do as a family, the better able you will be able to respond in case of an emergency.