How to create and practice a Home Fire Drill plan that could save your family’s life. Sponsored by Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen program.
Creating a fire safety plan is an essential safety task that too many families overlook. On Home Fire Drill Day, our family will be joining in with families across America by practicing our Home Fire Drill to ensure that we are prepared and ready should an emergency ever occur.
Do You Have a Fire Escape Plan?
It could happen to any of us.
No matter how careful or diligent you are, house fires can start and spread out of control fast.
Most Americans believe they have five minutes to escape a house fire.
Some believe they have ten minutes or more.
In reality, a family has less than two minutes to get out to safety.
When I first heard that number, my blood ran cold.
How could I possibly get every member of my family out in time? And what if it happened when my husband was out running an errand or we were all asleep?
After a brief moment of panic, it occurred to me: the only way that I could be rest assured that our family would be ready in such an emergency would be to practice a home fire drill with the kids and create a family fire safety plan.
We practice fire drills at work, and our children practice at school – but we are most likely to experience a fire at home. (Nine in ten structure fires occur in the home, and more than 8 in 10 fire-related deaths result from home fires.)
Even though we have a pretty busy schedule with three girls, Matt and I agreed that we shouldn’t put off something this important to our family’s safety and decided to do our first family fire drill that afternoon after he had picked the girls up from school.
Before getting started, I downloaded the Make Safe Happen app which shares all sorts of tips to help keep children as safe as possible, including room-by-room, age-by-age tips to keep in mind while devising your plan. It even includes a 2-minute timer that came in handy when we practiced our own home fire drill.
How to Create and Practice a Home Fire Drill
We kept our family meeting positive and upbeat, reinforcing to the kids that by being prepared and taking these steps, we were keeping our family safe. We did not get bogged down by scary “what if’s.”
Step 1: Know where to go
We started by explaining that we needed a “safety spot” that was near our home but also a safe distance away. The kids felt really empowered being included in this decision.
Next, we explained that when the smoke alarm beeps, we drop whatever we are doing and get out of the house quickly to meet at the safety spot.
Step 2: Check your smoke alarms
The next part gets loud: we tested the smoke alarms with the kids so they were familiar with the sound and wouldn’t be scared of it if they ever went off. (But let’s be honest, with my cooking – the kids have heard that noise a few times before!)
Matt and I also ensured that there was a smoke alarm in every level of our home, and one in each bedroom.
Step 3: Do the drill
Next came the test run of our home fire drill.
We started by having the kids head to their bedrooms to wait for the drill to begin. While it is also beneficial to discuss with your partner who will grab children under 6 in the event of an emergency, you also need to be prepared to do it by yourself.
Since he’s taller, I had Matt sound the smoke alarm and start the Make Safe Happen app Home Fire Drill timer. Everyone quickly got out of the house and to our safety spot. (We also talked about checking to see if the bedroom doors were hot to avoid walking into a blaze.)
Once we were all at the safety spot, we checked the timer. The first couple times, we weren’t under two minutes, so we tried it again.
(We also discussed that in a real fire we wait until we get to the safety spot to call 911 and then all stay close until firefighters arrive.)
The kids helped me design a fire safety plan which is now prominently displayed on our refrigerator. (As you can see, I had a little help drawing it).
We’ve agreed as a family that practicing regular home fire drills is an important safety measure and I’ve set a monthly phone reminder to check our smoke alarms and run our family fire drill.
Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen program/website also has a few Home Fire Drill Games which are a fun way to practice your drill together and get faster as a family, without the kids getting bored – or scared.
Take the Pledge to Make Safe Happen
Are you ready to join me in ensuring that our families are safe?
Pledge that you will practice your own Home Fire Drill with your family on October 13, 2018 at HomeFireDrillDay.com!