It is the middle of the night and your smoke detector is chirping away. You awaken to the smell of smoke. What do you do? How can you protect your family?
Protecting your family takes planning and practice. It is best to involve the entire family in this event. If your children, by some chance were alone, or you were injured, would they know what to do? There are ten things you can teach them right now!
Have a plan and practice it!
Sit down together and draw the inside layout of your home. Have them show you two ways out of every room in your home! Go from room to room in your home and have them point a way out. Tell them it is important to know how to get out in an emergency. If the bedrooms are on a second floor it may be wise to provide an emergency fire ladder.
Have fire drills with the fake fire at different points in the house
Using a photo of a flame, place it at various places around the home and have your family practice where to go when there is a fire. Have them practice their two or more ways out of every room. Let them get used to hearing the sound of the smoke detector.
Establish a Meeting Place
Show your family where everyone will meet once they get out of the house. This could be a tree, a mailbox, a rock or wherever the family chooses as long as the whole family knows where the meeting place is. Tell them this will help you to know every one has gotten out safely! Stress that NO ONE is to go back in for ANY reason! Not even for a beloved family pet!
Get Low and Go
One of the things that your family will need to understand that, often in a fire, the safer air is closer to the floor and the air that could make them sick is closer to the ceiling. That is why is is very important to crawl to the emergency exit and out of the house. They should roll out of bed if that is where they are and use the wall to guide them because they probably won’t be able to see.
Stop, Drop and Roll
Ask your children what they would do if their clothes ever caught fire. Instruct them to STOP where they are. DROP to the floor and cover their faces. Then they need to ROLL back and forth until the fire is out.
Show your children which buttons to press on the telephone and practice having them make a call to the 911 Center. Tell them this is for emergencies ONLY and then have them list what would be an emergency and what would not be an emergency.
Know your address
Teach your children their address. It is often better if you put it to the words of a song. I made one up for my children to the tune of “This Old Man” but you can use any song. You can also do a variation inserting “Child of ____ ____”.
Change Your Smoke Detector Batteries
It is important that at least once a year to change your smoke detector batteries. Pick a date that you will remember like a birthday or time change. Make sure there is at least one detector on every floor and replace those detectors every five to ten years. A carbon monoxide detector is also important especially if you heat with hot air. Make sure you check your detectors monthly!
Practice Using a Fire Extinguisher
Get a fire extinguisher and have everyone practice using it by pretending to pull the pin, aim at the base of the fire and spray the fire by moving it back and forth moving closer to the fire.
Hunt for Home Hazards
Send your family on a scavenger hunt hunting for Home Fire Hazards such as overloaded sockets or newspaper too close to a heat source. Make a list and then fix the problem areas!
Being proactive could someday save your family’s lives!