What is the first thing you look for in a crowded restaurant, a movie theater, or a mall?
An exit!
     The first week in October is Fire Prevention Week, but since fire prevention maintenance should typically be performed at home twice a year, I think that the first week in April should be Fire Prevention Week, Pt. I!
     Now that our kids are on spring break we should take this opportunity to create an escape plan in case of fire emergencies. I’ll tell you how to fire proof your home, create an escape plan, and make sure your fire detection devices are in working order.

This is for the moms reading this post.

When I was in fourth grade, we learned about fire safety. A fireman came into the classroom and lectured us on how to stop, drop, and roll. It was the highlight of my elementary school career and still sticks with me to this day. Perhaps it was the relevance of the topic. Maybe it was the cute fireman. Regardless it had an impact on me. No matter how old the members of your household are, now is as good a time as any to learn about fire safety.
First we need to make sure our fire safety equipment is in working order. Check the following devices and equipment:
  • Smoke detectors – replace batteries if needed or at least twice a year
  • Fire extinguishers – look for these signs that it needs replacing
    • it’s been used before
    • the hose or nozzle is cracked, ripped, or blocked with debris
    • the locking pin is missing or unsealed
    • the handle is wobbly or broken
    • the inspection sticker or hang tag is missing or shows that it’s expired

Parts of a fire extinguisher

Next we need to perform a visual check of appliances and electrical equipment to ensure there are no potential fire hazards:
  • Dryer vents and screens – clean of all lint
  • Exhaust fan outlets and screens – clean of all dust and lint
  • Air conditioning coils
  • Kitchen range hood screens
  • Look for damaged cords on all appliances and electrical equipment
  • Test outlets for proper hot, neutral and ground once a year
  • Test ground fault interrupters
  • Check chimney – have it professionally cleaned
The day we learned about fire safety we were sent home with an assignment: Create a map of your home and draw a fire escape route. This can be a fun project to perform with your children during spring break or even on a weekend. Make copies and hang them in your childrens’ rooms and on the refrigerator as a constant reminder. Following are some tips on how to create your fire escape plan.
  1. Draw a floor plan of your home inside and outside including the location of the street.
  2. Include all possible exits. These include doors, windows, stairways, porches, and garages.
  3. If possible, show 2 escape routes out of every room. For instance, if you are unable to leave through the door because of fire or smoke, a window may be an alternate route. Ensure that windows are easy for your children to open in case of emergencies.
  4. Develop a buddy system. Determine who in the house will need help escaping (infants, people with disabilities, elders).
  5. Pick a meeting place outside. Once you’ve successfully escaped the emergency in your home, decide where you and your family will meet one another. This should be an easily accessible, safe, memorable location.
  6. Call 911 from outside your home.
  7. Practice! Once you have created your plan with your family, practice the escape. These “fire drills” should be performed twice a year to ensure that everyone is on the same page and there are no surprises if a fire emergency arises.

An example of a fire escape plan

     The Fire Safety Council has a wonderful guide with a grid you can use to create your floor plan. Click here!
     Although the tips above may seem elementary (hence why I learned them in 4th grade), they are vital to your families health, safety, and welfare. If you have young children this is a fun creative activity and life lesson moment.
     Have you already created a fire safety plan with your family? If so, please share any tips  you deem important in the comments below!