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Be Prepared: Creating a Family Fire Escape Plan

By Nancy Mann Jackson

Family Fire Escape Plan

Have you talked with your kids about your home emergency evacuation plan in case of a fire? If yours is like nearly half of U.S. families, the answer is no. Discussing how to be safe in the event of a fire won't just give you peace of mind; it could save the lives of your family members.


Every 23 seconds, a fire department in the United States responds to a fire call, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Nobody expects it to happen to their home but it might. Electrical wiring, a fireplace, candles and clothes dryers are all things that are both commonplace in homes and potential locations for fire risks.


Rather than worrying about a potential fire, it's best to be prepared and ensure your entire family is armed with the knowledge they need to survive a house fire. Here are four steps to prepare your family for safe evacuation in the event of a fire:

Family Fire Escape Plan
  1. Hold a family meeting. Sit down with all members of your family to discuss the danger of fire and create a family fire escape plan. Involving the whole family in the process will ensure everyone feels safe and prepared.
  2. Select a meeting spot. Every household needs an outdoor meeting location in case of fire. If everyone goes to the same place, you won't have to wonder whether someone is still in the house or located somewhere else outside. Try to choose a location that is not connected to the house, which could be dangerous in a fire. Your mailbox or a swing set may be good options; or pick an easily identifiable landmark for small children to remember.
  3. Use visuals. Draw a map of your house and yard depicting each room and the different ways people could exit in case of fire. According to a Liberty Mutual/IAFF Fire Safety Survey, one in four children do not think they can get out of every room in their house in case of a fire. Take the time to show them they can and how to do so safely.
  4. Role play. Don't just talk about how to react in the event of a fire -- actually walk through the steps each person should take. Show children how to get out of bed when they hear the smoke alarm; crawl with them through the room to stay below the smoke; show them how to test the doors before opening. If doors are warm, children should learn to use other routes to get out to the family meeting spot safely.

Discussing and practicing a home fire escape plan and teaching children what to do in case of an emergency will help your family feel prepared and safe.


To learn even more about home fire safety, visit BeFireSmart where you can find fire safety quizzes for kids and helpful tips to make your home fire safe.


April 2, 2014, 9:46 AM

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