Fire Safety for your Family

Education, Home & Family
on October 21, 2001

If a fire broke out in your home, could your family escape unharmed?

Most people think they can survive a house fire, yet only 16 percent of us have planned an escape route or rehearsed a home fire drill, says the National Fire Protection Agency.

Most of the 4,000 fire-related deaths in the United States each year occur because people were unable to get out in time. In a typical house fire, you have just two or three minutes to exit safely, so its essential to have an escape plan in place.

The agency suggests using these simple guidelines in developing your escape plan:

lInclude all family members, even small children, when you practice fire drillsand practice the escape plan at least twice a year.

lDecide on a central meeting place outside your home, and stay outside at all times. Never re-enter the house under any circumstances.

lDesignate two ways to exit each room in your home and show the exits to your children.

lKeep the emergency number 911 posted by all telephones in your home. In panic, someone might forget what to dial.

lKeep all windows and doors unobstructed and in working order.

lPractice general fire safety and teach your children how to be safe in a non-threatening way, such as reading age-appropriate books.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta offers several suggestions to protect your family:

lTeach your child to stop, drop, and roll if their clothes ever catch fire. Children should stop where they are, drop to the ground, and roll over repeatedly with their hands covering their face.

lExplain to your children that they should never hide if a fire breaks out. Instead, teach them to call for help and remain close to the floor, below toxic smoke and fumes.

lKeep fire extinguishers on each floor, and be sure family members know how to use them.

lInstall smoke detectors near every bedroom, on each floor, and in the basement. Because smoke rises, detectors should be placed on ceilings or high on walls. Test detectors monthly. An easy way to remember this is to test them when you pay the electric bill. Change the batteries in each smoke detector twice a year. A good rule of thumb is to change batteries when daylight-saving time begins in April and ends in October.