Exit Drills In The Home
In a recent NFPA survey, half the people responding said their family had a fire escape plan, but only 16 percent said they had practiced a plan. This finding is worrisome because it means most people are ill prepared if fire breaks out in their home.
Don't be a fire victim - plan ahead.
Survival Is Simple:
- You can survive a fire in your home if you know what to do and respond in time.
- Install working smoke alarms and keep them in working order.
- Make an escape plan and practice it.
- Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler system in your home.
Plan Your Escape:
- Sit down with your family today, including young children, and make a step-by-step plan for escaping a fire.
- Draw a floor Plan of your home. Mark two ways out (including windows) of every room. Discuss the best escape routes with every member of your household. Let children color in parts of the escape plan so they are part of the activity.
- Agree on an outside meeting place. Pick a spot in front of your home where everyone will meet after they've escaped so you can count heads and tell the fire department if anyone is missing or trapped inside. IMPORTANT: Physically practice your escape plan. Have a fire drill in your home at least twice a year. Appoint someone to be monitor and have everyone participate. A fire drill is not a race. Get out quickly, but carefully.
- Make your exit drills realistic. Pretend that some exits are blocked by fire and practice using alternative escape routes. Pretend that the lights are out and that some escape routes are filling with smoke.
- Know how to open doors and windows. Make sure everyone can unlock all doors and windows quickly, even in the dark. If windows or doors have security bars, equip them with quick-release devices. Find out if children can reach and operate deadbolts and window locks.
If you live in an apartment building, talk with building managers to learn what your building's fire protection features include, and what the fire evacuation plan and response are for residents. Ask for regularly scheduled fire drills. Use stairways to escape. Never use the elevator to escape a fire. It could stop between floors or take you to a floor where the fire is. Know your building's evacuation plan. In some high-rise buildings tenants are instructed to stay where they are and wait for the voice instruction from the fire alarm system or directions from the fire department.
If you must use a second-story window as an escape route, you'll need a safe way to reach the ground. Consider buying fire escape ladders as a means of emergency escape. Make special arrangements for children, older adults, and people with disabilities. People who have difficulty moving should have a phone in their sleeping area and, if possible, should sleep on the ground floor.
Test doors - Kneel at the door, reach up as high as you can and touch the door, the knob, and the crack between the door and its frame with the back of your hand. If this area feels warm, use another escape route. If the area feels cool, open it cautiously. Put your shoulder against the door and open it slowly. Slam it shut if there is smoke or flame on the other side.
Crawl low under smoke - Smoke contains deadly gases, and heat rises. During a fire, cleaner air will be near the floor. If you encounter smoke when using primary exit, use an alternate escape route. If you must exit through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees toward your exit, keeping your head 1 to 2 feet above the floor. If you are trapped, close as many doors as you can between you and the fire. Use duct tape or cloth to seal the cracks around the doors to keep out smoke. Wait at a window and signal for help with alight-colored cloth or a flashlight. If there's a phone in the room, call the fire department and tell them exactly where you are.
Stay out - Once you are out of your home, don't go back for any reason. If people are trapped, the firefighters are the only ones who can rescue them without high risk to their own lives in the attempt. The heat and smoke of a fire are overpowering. Firefighters have the training, experience, and protective equipment needed to enter burning buildings.