Smoke detectors save lives, as long as you have an effective fire escape plan. By the time a smoke detector starts screaming in your ear, a small fire can transform into a large fire within 30 seconds, making it very difficult for you and your family to navigate your evacuation route to safety.
Needless to say, time is of the essence when you hear a smoke detector go off, and it’s imperative that you have an effective fire escape plan so you and your family can evacuate your house safely. While it’s a legal requirement in Australia to have a working smoke detector on each level of a residential property, you’d be surprised at how many families don’t create a fire escape plan and practice test evacuations at least twice a year.
Creating a fire escape plan
Creating a fire escape plan is much easier than most people think. If you need a template to assist you, there are some great online fire resources that can help. Once you’ve printed the template on either an A4 or A3 piece of paper, draw a floor plan of your home. Once you’ve done this, you’ll then need to draw your fire escape plan in conjunction with all other occupants of your house. Not only will they be able to assist you in making the best fire escape plan possible, but they’ll also be more familiar with the fire escape plan themselves.
Multiple fire escape plans
It’s critical to note that every house should have two fire escape plans for every room. You never know where a fire can ignite, so to failsafe your fire escape plan, you’ll need two evacuation points from each room. Once completed, place the fire escape plan in a frequented location like the fridge so it stays fresh in everyone’s mind.
Remember basic fire safety
It can be hard to remember basic fire safety in the midst of an emergency. However, some important points to remember are:
- If a fire ignites in your house, crawl down low when trying to get to your escape point. Fire smoke inhalation is extremely dangerous as people can become unconscious very quickly
- Close all doors as you evacuate your house to slow the spread of the fire
- If you’re unsure if there’s a fire on the other side of a door, place the back of your hand on the door handle and if it’s hot, do not enter the room
- If anyone’s clothes catch on fire, STOP, DROP, & ROLL to extinguish the fire
Some other tips to ensure your fire safety plan is effective are:
- Make sure that the windows and screens of each room can be easily opened
- Ensure every occupant is aware of a safe meeting place outside the house, such as the driveway
- Once everyone has been evacuated, stay out of the house. Never return inside a burning building
- Practice your fire escape plan at least twice a year to ensure everyone is familiar with each of the evacuation routes (you could even make a game of it with your children to see who can evacuate the fastest)
- If you reside in an apartment, ensure that all occupants learn and practice the apartment buildings fire evacuation plan
- If you hear a fire detector, evacuate immediately
- Never use a lift or elevator in the event of a fire; always use the stairs.
Fire prevention strategies
There are steps that people should take to try to prevent fires from igniting in the first place. Firstly, every home should be equipped with an ABE Dry Powder fire extinguisher, ideally located in a convenient location on every level of the house. This will assist you and your family if you need to evacuate and can suppress small fires before they intensify and cause enormous amounts of damage to your property.
In addition to this, each home should also have a fire blanket located near the kitchen. If someone’s clothes have caught on fire, then a fire blanket will quickly extinguish it. Fire blankets are also the most effective way to extinguish a cooking or grease fire.
Maintain your fire safety equipment
Lastly, it’s paramount that you test the batteries of your fire detectors every month and replace the batteries every year. There’s no point in having fire detectors if they aren’t working properly. Always remember that failing to prepare is preparing to fail, so if you don’t already have a fire escape plan, create one today.
Creating a fire plan needn’t be a difficult task. It’s also ideal to get the whole household involved so that everyone is on the same page. Whether it’s for a large home or you need to adopt the plan set out by your apartment building, making sure everyone is aware of your fire safety escape plan will help to keep everyone in your family safe.