National Fire Prevention week begins on Sunday, October 3. Most municipalities are planning events to coincide with the weeklong celebration of prevention ideas. This makes it a good time to evaluate your home and plan for a fire drill.
Practicing family fire drills is something that makes sense and could save the life of your family. When my boys were little, we decided the mailbox was the family meeting spot and practiced crawling if the smoke in the home was too thick to make walking safe. At the time, my younger son was not quite a toddler and found the activity fun because everyone was crawling on the floor with him. My older son continued the practice that started to include sliding down the steps, which led to a discussion on why you don’t slide headfirst down anything. Ah, boys!
As our sons got older, the fire drill practices weren't as frequent until 6 years ago when our family applied to become a foster-to-adopt home. Part of the process includes having your home inspected by the fire department, fire extinguishers/smoke alarnes on every floor, and an evacuation route posted in a prominent spot. The boys’ enthusiasm for the project was inspiring. My older son demonstrated his architecture abilities by drawing the family home to scale on a grid. He mapped out a plan for the meeting spot – still the mailbox – and identified which family member would ensure that our pets were included in the evacuation plan. We put safety ladders in the upstairs bedrooms and checked smoke detectors. It’s a practice we are reminded to do every October.
This year, the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) has adopted the slogan “Beep! Beep! Beep! Smoke Alarms: A sound you can live with.” Judy Comoletti, division manager for NFPA public education says, “Most people have a sense of complacency about smoke alarms because they already have one in their homes. Fire Prevention Week provides an excellent opportunity to re-educate people about smoke alarms, new technologies and expanded options for installation and maintenance.” The aim of the campaign is be a call to action for households nationwide to inspect their homes to ensure that their families have the full smoke alarm protection that’s recommended.
On October 6, families are asked to hold a fire drill. Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Draw a floor plan or a map of your home.
- Show all doors and windows.
- Mark two ways out of each room.
- Mark all of the smoke alarms with a symbol - Smoke alarms should be in each sleeping room, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home.
- Find two ways to get out of every room. This means being sure that rooms and hallways are clutter-free. It may also mean putting fire safety ladders on second floor bedrooms.
2. Practice crawling – as smoke rises, the clearer air is near the floor.
3. Practice testing doors – using the back of your hand determine if a door feels hot. If it is hot, don’t open it, use your second way out of the room.
4. Pick a family meeting place outside where everyone can meet.
5. Post the evacuation plan in a prominent place in your home.
6. Practice the drill at least twice a year.
Got tips to share? Add them in the comment section below. Liza Weidle is the NC Mom Congress delegate and author of "Truth about Parenting: Navigating the Elementary Years."