Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape™
By Mr. Tobey Beagle, 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department
/ Published October 06, 2019
PEORIA, Ill. --
We’ve made many technological advancements in fire prevention and safety over the last 100 years, but one of the most important and one of the most low-tech aspects of fire safety hasn’t changed, and that is having a plan. What do I mean by have a plan?
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Have an escape plan to get out of wherever you’re at if it catches on fire. This is especially importantly at home and especially if you have children.
So, you might be asking yourself, “What do I need to do to plan?”
First and foremost, if you have family, get them involved in the planning process. If kids are involved, make a game out of it. The next thing you need to do is gather the materials you’ll need. These materials include a pencil, paper (preferably graph paper), markers and a ruler. Once you have the family involved and you have the materials needed, here is a step-by-step set of instructions:
1. If your kids are old enough and they like to draw, have them draw a floor plan of your house or apartment. Once the floor plan is drawn, make some copies, because you’ll want to make a plan for everyone in the house.
2. Next, identify a rally point, and mark it on the map. The rally point should be a predesignated neighbor’s house or spot in the yard if going to a neighbor’s isn’t feasible.
3. The next step is locate your home’s primary and secondary exits.
4. Now, draw lines from the central point in the bedrooms to the exits, both primary and secondary. Then draw from the exits to the rally point.
5. (Optional) Post the plan on the fridge, cork boards, etc.
Now you have an escape plan. Are you done? Nope! You have to ask yourself, does the plan work?
To figure that out everyone needs to practice the plan. PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! To practice, have everyone go to their respective rooms and wait. Then yell “Fire, fire, fire!” Everyone should use the primary exits the first time around. This is also where you can really make a game out of it and offer rewards when they make it to the rally point. Next, practice again using the secondary exit. Now, practice doesn’t stop here. It is recommended that you practice at least two times per year.
Here are some tips:
• Show kids the screen on the windows if you have them, and tell them they will have to push those out of the way in real life. Make take them out to practice if you don’t want them to get broken.
• If using rope ladders to go out second story windows, you might want to go first and guide younger children down. When it comes to going out second story windows, you need to preach safety. You know your family best and you might want to have them deploy the ladder, but not use it in the practice. Safety first!
• Warn the neighbors that you have chosen them to be your rally point, and let them know when you’re going to practice.
Hopefully you can see this is fairly easy and can be a fun family activity. To sum it up and make it really simple, put a plan on paper and practice. It’s that easy.
I have included a printable document you can use to help create your floor plan. Also, here is a link to a free drawing tool: http://www.fire.org.nz/fire-safety/escape-plans/pages/draw-your-own-escape-plan-online.aspx.