It’s hard to believe, but home fires kill and injure more Americans than all other natural disasters combined. That said, there are some pretty basic steps to make it a lot less likely that you or someone you love will get hurt in a fire.
The Red Cross offers great tips in their 2016 Safety Resolutions – with just a little time and motivation, you can get your family prepared in case of a fire and have a little fun, too.
They recommend identifying two exit routes in each room, and a fire-escape plan that you practice until everyone in the family can make it happen in under two minutes. It might seem obvious to us able-bodied grown-ups, but small children or family members with special needs really may not know what to do if they’re trapped by a fire. Using your home’s floor plan can be a great resource to plan your exit routes.
With this knowledge, I undertook Fire Safety Saturday with my own family, including my 3 and 6 year old. It took a little convincing, but once we got started, we were off and running.
First – we checked all the fire alarms. Every level of the home and even every room should have a fire alarm both inside the room and out. AND… batteries should be checked monthly, unless you have a long-life battery. (might be time to spring for one of those!)
Next – we gathered our little ones to establish a safe meeting place and practice two escapes out of every room. A few things we learned – our 3 year old didn’t know how to unlock and open a window. Neither child knew how to kick out a screen, or that it was OK to do so in an emergency. Our youngest couldn’t open the front gate on her own. Neither could undo the safety lock on the window in the garage.
We asked questions like, “If you think your mom is still inside the house, do you go back in and get her?” and “If you forgot your favorite toy, do you run back for it?” We talked about staying low to avoid smoke, and how to feel a door for heat. We practiced exiting from windows and doors, running out the front gate (which both kids can now open) and staying put at the meeting place. The kids jumped and ran, slapped high fives, laughed, and had a great time. My husband and I felt like awesome parents, at least for a few minutes. A fun family activity that also could save our babies’ lives? I can’t believe we haven’t done this sooner.
I’m happy to say that KB Home has made fire safety a priority, and has done some important things to keep homeowners safer. Every home comes with CO-2 and smoke detectors already in place, and extra thick drywall is installed on all ceilings – thickness that slows down the progression of a fire should it occur. Attic insulation and home exteriors are also treated with fire retardant. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but it sure is nice to know it’s there.
We’d love to hear your own ideas and experiences in getting your home and family fire-safe. Please comment below if you’d like to share. And have fun with your own fire safety planning!