4 easy ways to prepare for household fires

Every household should have a fire-safety plan in place virtually from the moment the occupants move in. Formal fire drills, while they may seem excessive, are really a very good practice. Here are some basic ways of preparing everyone in your house for a fire emergency.

4 easy ways to prepare for household fires

1. Plan an effective escape route

Plan an escape route from every room in the house.

  • Make it a family routine to keep halls and stairways free of obstacles so that escape routes are clear.
  • Family members should review the route periodically to be sure that everyone knows his or her role and that no part of the plan needs updating — due to a change in the mobility of a family member, for example.

2. Fire safety tips

  • Sleep with bedroom doors closed. In the event of fire, the door helps to retard smoke and heat. If the fire detector alarm or smoke detector should sound, feel the bottom of the door. Do not open it if it is hot. Stuff towels, blankets or rugs under the door, then open a window and make your escape.
  • If the door is not hot, open it slowly,with your face turned away; leave the room and close the door behind you to prevent backdraft. Tie a wet rag around your nose and mouth if you have a water source, and take short breaths. Because smoke and fire rise, stay low as you move towards an exit.

3. Safe ways to escape

  • Teach youngsters how to make an escape rather than hiding under a bed or in a closet, as their instinct tells them to do. Put an adult in charge of helping any elderly member or young child to escape.
  • If you are trapped on an upstairs level, stuff damp sheets or curtains in the heating and air ducts as well as under the door to block smoke. Use a phone to call for help or use a flashlight or brightly coloured cloth to signal out the window. And yell for help. If necessary, open a window slightly at the top to let smoke out or at the bottom to let fresh air in. Don't break the window — you may need to shut it if there's smoke outside or to prevent outside air from feeding the fire.
  • If you must jump, climb out and try to get a grip on a windowsill first, lower yourself and then let go. Bend your knees to make the landing easier on your body.

4. Move quickly

Do not pause to dress or gather precious belongings. Do not search for a hiding pet. Your goal must be to get out as quickly and safely as possible.

House fires can spread quickly. Consider these tips and plan ahead by mapping out an escape route and discussing fire safety with your family.

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