Every home should have working smoke alarms and an escape plan in case of a fire. Include all family members in the planning process and make a plan for anyone with special needs or limitations such as a baby or toddler, the elderly or the disabled.
Create a fire escape floor plan:
- Start by drawing a rectangle on a piece of paper. Draw one for reach room of your home. Then draw in all doors and windows. Your children can use crayons to draw in beds, tables, etc.
- In one color, draw a line that shows the fastest way out of each room. Then, in another color, draw another line that shows the second fastest way out.
Now that you have your fire escape plan, talk to your family about how they would escape from each room of your house or apartment if there was a fire. The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service recommends having home fire drills regularly so everyone knows what to do in an emergency.
Know what to do in case of a fire.
- Pick a meeting place outside of your home where everyone can gather after they have left the burning building.
- NEVER use an elevator to escape a fire.
- Conduct home fire drills and make them realistic by holding your drills in the evening since kids can get disoriented in the dark and fires often happen at night.
- In case of a fire, get out first then call the fire department with a portable, cell or neighbor's phone from a safe location.
- Make sure that everyone knows that once you're out, stay out! Never go back inside of a burning building.
- Close doors behind you as you escape to slow the spread of fire and smoke.
- If you have to escape through smoke, remember that smoke rises. Teach children to "get low and go" if there's smoke. The air will be cleanest and easier to breath near the floor.
- Test doorknobs and spaces around closed doors with the back of your hand. If the door is warm, try another escape route. If it is cool, open it slowly. Slam the door shut if smoke pours through.
Things to Think About:
- If you're having a baby-sitter or overnight guests, these people need to learn your household fire escape plan, too. They should be familiar with the sound of the smoke alarm, escape routes and your family's meeting place.
- Can everyone in your home - including children - unlock and open all doors and windows?
- You may want to consider supplying upper bedrooms with escape ladders. Show children where the ladders are kept, how to attach them to the window and how to use them. Demonstrate how to back out of the window and go down the ladder feet first. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue recommends practicing from a ground floor window where there is no risk of falling.
- If you need to descend a ladder to escape, be sure to lower children to the ground before you exit from the window. They may panic in an emergency situation and not follow you if you go first.
- If your windows have security bars, equip them with quick-release devices, and teach everyone in your household how to use them.
- Test your smoke alarms once a month.
- Replace alarm batteries once a year.
- Smoke alarms don't last forever. Replace alarms that are more than 10 years old, following manufacturer instructions.