There are over 100 wildfires currently burning across the U.S, most of them in the West. Many of them are threatening homes and businesses. No matter where you live, no matter the time of year, the threat of fire is real.
According to Carrie Housman, a spokesperson for the Red Cross, your family may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home. It’s crucial that every household create a fire safety plan and practice it until everyone can escape in less than two minutes.
– Create an Escape Plan: Draw up a floor plan of your home, and indicate two potential ways out of each room using windows and doors. NFPA has a downloadable escape planning grid that you can use, and a downloadable brochure about keeping escape routes clear.
Once you’ve established the exits, show your children how to get out of the house. Before opening a door, it’s important to touch it first. If the door is hot, keep it closed and find another way out. Show them how to exit a smokey building by dropping to their bellies and shimmying out under the smoke.
– Pick a Meeting Place
Choose a place where family members can meet once they get out of the home safely. According to Housman, the location of this meeting spot will depend on where you live. Make sure the spot you choose is easy to get to and far enough away from the burning home. Once you pick a location, make sure everyone in your family knows exactly where to meet.
– P.A.S.S (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep)
Let’s now go over the accepted process of P.A.S.S to put out a fire with a fire extinguisher.
P stands for ‘pull’ the pin. Once the pin is pulled, point the nozzle toward the fire.
A stands for ‘aim’ low. You may be tempted to start at the top of the fire and work your way down, but nip the fire in the butt by aiming low.
What you can do to help your kids?
Teach them stop, drop and roll if they haven’t learnt it at school already. If they have, go over how it is done. Make them show you how it is done.
Make sure your kids know not to go looking for a dog or cat in the event of a fire. Reassure them that animals have great instincts and will know how to get out.
Tell them that if they touch a door knob and it is hot, not to open that door. A hot doorknob means there is a fire on the other side.
Make sure your kids know to crawl in the event of a fire. The air is safer down there.
If you live in an apartment, make sure you tell your kids to take the stairs. Never use an elevator in the event of a fire. You can get a slow roast inside of one or even have the door open to a wall of fire.
Be sure to tell your kids not to hide under the bed or in the closet. Fire fighters will be frantically searching for survivors and they need to be seen quickly.
Lastly, take your kids to meet a firefighter in full gear. That way they’ll know who to look for, for help.
S stands for ‘squeeze’ lever evenly and slowly. Don’t be in a hurry to empty that fire extinguisher.
S stands for ‘sweep’. Move the nozzle from side to side to maximize the spray and increase your chances of putting the fire out.
– Check Smoke Alarms
A fire safety plan will only work if you have fully operational smoke detectors on each level of your home. According to Housman, “Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half.” Test your smoke alarms once a month and change the batteries twice a year.
– Make a plan to help pets evacuate safely, too, if possible.
– Stress to all members of your family that, in case of a fire, getting out of the home is the most important goal. Don’t stop to grab valuables when human life is at risk.
– Display your home’s fire safety plan and diagram in a central location so that family members can familiarize themselves with the information.
– Make sure that everyone understands not to re-enter the home until fire personnel have indicated that it is safe to do so.
–Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
– Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.
– Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.
– Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire“ to alert everyone that they must get out.