Escape Routes

Family Fire Drills

How should you perform an effective family fire drill? The majority of fire deaths related to children are in the home. This can be a difficult topic for some families, but has identified some easy steps you can take to prepare your family for the tragedy of a residential fire.

First and foremost, you know your children better than anyone. Some children may become very afraid during this conversation, but it is one that you must have. You know the best way to introduce this information to them, but here are some suggestions.

Don’t Make this Family Fire Drill Mistake

Many make a major mistake when preparing for a family fire drill. They start with the drill. One of the parents says, “We are having a drill” or they set off the smoke alarm to see what their family will do. This causes confusion and often scares smaller children who do not know what to do. Do not rely on the fact that because your children do fire drills at school, they will also know what to do at home.

The Effective Family Fire Drill Process

The first thing your family should do is to have a family meeting and come up with a plan. Visit each room in your home and discuss a minimum of two ways out of each room. If the regular way out of a room is blocked or inaccessible, you must have a second way out. This may take some creativity if the room is above the first floor, or if you have small children.

Once you have identified two ways out of each room in your home, you should identify a meeting place. One of the most important things you need to do during a fire is to advise the fire department if anyone is trapped inside or unaccounted for; having an identified meeting place is the best way to determine if everyone is accounted for. Pick a location near your home such as a neighbor’s home, a tree, or the mail box. It is imperative that everyone understands that this is the only location they should go to.

The next step in your planning process should be to identify how your family is alerted to a fire. Identify the number and locations of your smoke alarms: we suggest you have a smoke alarm in each bedroom, hallway, and living rooms at a minimum. You should establish whether your fire alarms are linked or if they are stand alone; if they are linked, all alarms will sound when one of them goes off, which is the preferred set up. Push the test button on your alarm to let your family members know what it sounds like. If they have never heard the sound, they may not know what it is.

You now have a fire plan. Activities can be a great way to reinforce your plan. Depending on the age and abilities of your children, you could have them draw a floor plan of your home identifying the escape routes and the family meeting location. Coloring pictures of your family meeting location, a smoke alarm, or a fire engine can help with younger children.

Practice your Family Fire Drill

Now that you have a plan, it needs to be practiced. Before you jump in and set off your smoke alarm, walk through some scenarios as a family. Make sure that you at least review each child’s room with them. Now, let your family know that you will use the smoke alarm – do not surprise them – and hold down the test button to have everyone go to the family meeting location. This may need to be practiced multiple times. Once your family has this mastered, let them know that at some point in the future you will have an unannounced fire drill. These drills should be practiced at a minimum annually, but may need to be done much more often.

We hope these tips will help you to be more prepared in your home. Knowing what to do if a fire were to occur will help your family, and can be a fun activity.