Fire escape plan helps protect children in case of emergency
While a significant number of Americans believe they have more than six minutes to safely get out of a home once a smoke alarm sounds, statistics indicate there can be as little as two minutes before a fire can become life-threatening. Since children are among those at greatest risk, National SAFE KIDS Week, April 26-May 4, serves as an important reminder to families to practice an escape plan, according to safety experts from First Alert.
Although properly installed and maintained smoke alarms provide an early signal to the household of a fire emergency, it’s just as essential to make sure children know what to do once the alarm sounds.
According to safety experts, it is crucial to develop and practice a home escape plan in case a real fire should occur — especially if children are in the home.
Here are the key considerations when preparing an escape plan:
• Consider the particular characteristics of each member of the family, including age, physical conditions, sleeping habits and hearing ability.
• If children or others do not readily hear the alarm, assign someone to assist them during a fire drill or emergency.
• Identify two exits for each room and each level of the residence and teach children not to hide in a closet or under beds.
• Feel if a door is hot before opening. If it is hot, do not open it. If the door can be used, the family member should close it behind them. A closed door may help stall a fire.
• Stay low to the ground when exiting.
• Once outside the home, go to a designated meeting place so all family members can be accounted for. Make sure the location is a safe distance and away from other structures or trees that could also catch on fire.
• Dial 911 from a neighbor’s home or a cell phone.
• Never, under any circumstance, approach or re-enter the home until fire crews arrive and assess the situation.
• Practice the escape plan at least twice a year, making sure everyone is involved, from childen to grandparents. It is also recommended to hold a fire drill at night in order to determine the response of family members.
“Just as every home should have a first aid kit in case of a fall or cut, every family should also create and practice an escape plan in case of a fire emergency,” said Deborah Hanson, director of external communications, First Alert. “Practicing a safe exit out of your home could be the most important time you spend together as a family.”
To learn more, visit the First Alert Web site at http://www.firstalert.com.
Published in The Messenger 4.25.08