How to Create a First Alert Family Emergency Escape Plan
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Having a Family Emergency Escape Plan is one of those things that I put on the to do list and then never follow through with. I know it’s important, but it’s always pushed down to the bottom of my priorities for one reason or another. And then a house a block away from us caught fire and I. Was. Shooketh. I realized that my kids would have no idea what to do or where to go, which puts them in danger. With my bedroom on the main floor and their bedrooms upstairs, I wouldn’t be able to reach them in case of an emergency and the thought of them being in trapped in their rooms with not a clue as to what to do weighed heavy on me.
Did you know that only 43% of homeowners have an emergency escape plan?∗ And only 33% have discussed fire safety with their family?∗ In the event of an emergency, every single second counts. This combined with our neighbors fire is why I decided it was important to plan and practice my family’s emergency escape route and to discuss fire safety together as a family. I put together a family meeting and sat down together with my family to create our own Family Emergency Escape Plan step by step.
Create a home escape plan
First Alert offers this free printable family escape plan. I drew in a map of our house and all the exits and windows. I used a blue marker to trace dotted lines for escape routes. Together as a family, we went over how each and every person can escape the house in case of a fire or emergency.
Know at least two ways out of every room
I went room by room with my kids and had them show me two ways they could get out of the room. This way I knew they’d be able to find a way out and they could look to me for help in case they couldn’t think of a way out on their own.
Have a meeting spot
Using a large tree as a landmark, I showed my kids where our meeting spot would be. This is the place that everyone would end up in after escaping the house that’s a safe distance away. I made sure the spot was a landmark that the kids would remember and recognize like the neighbors tree. A mailbox or street sign would work too.
Practice the plan twice a year
As a family, we committed to practicing our escape plan twice a year. Plan. Practice. Repeat.
Teach kids how to escape without an adult
The escape ladder is store under my son’s bed and in the event that I can’t make it up the stairs to help him, I taught him how to operate the ladder to help him escape through his window. I also had both of my kids practice how to get out without my help and waited for them in the safe spot.
After the family makes it to the meeting spot, an adult can call 911. In case no adults make it to the meeting spot, I showed my children the neighbors homes that were safe. I explained to them that they needed to find an adult and tell them to call 911 immediately.
An emergency “kit”
While having our Family Emergency Escape Plan is important and has made me feel safer about how my children will handle an emergency, installing necessary protection is key. In May, I shared with you why I trust and use First Alert products to protect my family, which is why I stocked our home with First Alert products. The National Fire Protection Association recommends installing smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, and inside and outside each sleeping area. Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed on every level, including the basement and near each sleeping area. An easy way to remember this is every level, every bedroom. Alarms should be tested regularly and batteries replaced every six months (or you can upgrade to the ones I have, which are the 10-year sealed battery alarms that eliminate the need for battery replacements for the life of the alarm). I also have a First Alert Fire Extinguisher on every level of our home and on the main level, it’s stored in the kitchen. Since my home is two stories, I have a First Alert Escape Ladder stored in my son’s bedroom, which the kids know is their safest escape route thanks to the ladder.
As a mom, I want to protect my children from anything harmful, but I know that that’s just not possible. However, when it comes to keeping our family home safe, I can take necessary steps to help everyone stay and feel their safest.
∗ First Alert Research Report, June 2016 – Results are based on the responses of 1,000+ adult homeowners, ages 25 and older, living in the United States.