Fire Prevention: Your Family’s Planned Escape/Evacuation

Stop Drop and Roll

Teach your kids the basics of staying safe in the event of fire

A house fire is one of my greatest fears when it comes to my family, and especially my young son. Fire is powerful and uncontrollable, and absolutely deadly. Just thinking about it sets off waves of panic – but not of uncertainty.

That’s because we have a fire evacuation plan. We have fire protection and practice prevention. Does your family?

Basic Fire Prevention

For me, good parenting is a tightrope walk: I want to give my son the freedom to fall and scrap his knees – to learn how to get back up again – but I also want to protect him from serious dangers while he learns these life lessons. When he’s old enough (he’s only 1.5), fire prevention will be much the same: I will teach him to respect the flame, and will arm him with knowledge (not paranoia) of the awesome power of fire. And then, of course, I’ll school him in prevention and what to do in case of an emergency.

Fire Prevention

You don’t need to terrify your kids into fire prevention. Kids are natural collaborators, and they want to help you do what you do. So let them in on your fire prevention preparations: Give them the responsibility of pressing smoke alarm tester buttons, or checking the gauge on your fire extinguishers.

Fire safety fire extinguishers

Have basic fire prevention & safety supplies prepared at all times

Fire Protocol for Kids

There are many great ways to teach children fire safety, and some of them you’ll probably remember from your own childhood. (Stop, drop and roll!) Check out our full list of fire prevention tips for kids, and be sure to drill these skills at least a few times per year.

Fire Escape Route

Yesterday we talked about creating a general home safety plan, but today I want to touch on the specifics of a fire escape route. Here’s what we have going on in my house:

Window Safety

You know that your doors open and shut normally, but you need to do regular checks of your windows – a primary escape route in case of fire. Many elements, like humidity or a recent repaint, may make it hard (or nearly impossible) to open your windows. Do a regular check (once a month works over here) to verify your window situation.

Escape Ladder

If your kids sleep on an upper level, you need to get a roll-up escape ladder for their room(s). Even more, you need to practice climbing down the ladder. Unless your kid’s a daredevil (mine’s nicknamed Evel Knievel!), she’ll probably be scared to climb down a swinging, unfamiliar rope ladder – especially if she’s already panicking about a house fire. Drilling her climbing skills in advance will help her stay calm and safe as she descends to safety during an emergency.

child with home safety plan

Prepare a fire escape plan with your children

Double Escape Route

As you work up your fire evacuation plan, you need to develop at least two safe routes out of your home: one primary and one alternative, in case the primary is unsafe. Note that the primary route from your bedroom is probably different than the preferred evacuation from your kids’ rooms. Don’t confuse your children with options; instead, only focus on their individual plans. If they’re on the younger side, do an arts & crafts project to create an escape route diagram. Their fire plan should live in their bedroom, somewhere they can easily grab during a fire.

Twin Meeting Spots

The final element to your evacuation route is your outdoor meeting spot. You’re going to need two again, in case your preferred location is unsafe. This area can be anywhere on your property – the front sidewalk is good, for example, because that’s where the fire trucks will arrive – but you can also choose a trusted neighbor’s home. Whatever works for your circumstances and family.

Basic Supplies

Finally, arm your family with these basic fire safety supplies:

  • Flashlights: One per bedroom and at least one per floor
  • Towels: One set per bedroom, to prevent smoke from seeping in under doors and windows
  • Cotton Shirt/Blanket: One per person, in the bedroom, to cover your nose and mouth to prevent smoke inhalation
  • Bright Cloth: One per bedroom, to wave so the fire department can spot you easily
  • Smoke Detectors: One per bedroom and at least one per floor
  • Fire Extinguisher: At least one per floor

Stay safe!

Looking for more fire safety information? Check out our comprehensive guide to Fire Safety for Kids.

More Safety Solutions for Kids and Families:

Fire Prevention Tips for Kids

Fire Prevention

Everyone can help prevent house fires

There are lots of things you can do to keep your family safe from fire Hey, kids, did you know? You can help keep your parents and siblings, if you have them, safe from fire.

Fire safety works in two ways: First, it helps your family avoid a fire in the first place. That’s the prevention part. But if there is a fire, you need to know what to do. So fire safety also includes emergency steps to take in case of a house fire.

Fire Prevention Tips

The best fire safety is preventing one in the first place. Here are things you can do to keep your family safe.

1. Smoke Detectors
Your home should have at least one smoke detector per floor, and also in the kitchen and every bedroom. You can help by reminding your parents to check your smoke alarms every, single month and asking them to change the batteries when you set your clocks back/forward for Daylight Saving’s time. If you have a younger brother or sister, teach him or her that the loud alarm means danger.

2. Fire Extinguishers
Like smoke detectors, every home needs fire extinguishers. Tell your parents to put them in the kitchen and on every level of your house. If you’re old enough and strong enough, you should know where your extinguishers are located and how to use them.

3. Practice Fire Safety
There are lots of things you can do everyday to prevent a house fire:

  • Kitchen safety: If you like to cook, make sure to always roll up your sleeves (or wear short sleeves) in the kitchen. Also, always cover pots and pans with a lid that fits.
  • Heat test: If you ever notice that an electrical outlet, cord, or light is getting too hot, tell your parents immediately.
  • No Candles: Candles smell good and look like fun, but they’re easy to knock over and start a fire. If you’d really like a candle, ask your parents to get you a flameless version that works with a battery or electric power.
  • Keep your door closed: Before bed every night, shut your door. If there is a fire, your door works as extra protection until the smoke alarm wakes you up.
Fire safety fire extinguishers

Ask your parents to install smoke alarms and fire extinguishers in your home

4. Never Play with Fire
Never play with matches, candles, lighters, or anything else that makes or uses fire. It may look cool, but fire is very dangerous because it grows very quickly.

5. Have an Emergency Plan
Encourage your parents to run fire drills at least twice a year, including once at night. Every person in your family will need to practice the shortest, safest route out of your home. You should also have a secondary backup plan, for in case your primary escape route is impossible. If you are not on the first floor, you should practice climbing down the fire escape ladder. You emergency plan should include an meeting place outside.

6. Emergency Numbers
911 is the most important emergency number – it’ll get you in contact with the fire department, an ambulance, or the police.

In the Event of Fire

If you wake up to the smell of smoke or the sound of a smoke alarm, try not to panic. Fire is scary and it is okay to be afraid, but panic can make you forget what to do.

1. Touch Test
Before you leave your bedroom, touch your hand to the door. If it is hot, use an alternative escape route.

2. Don’t Hide, Go Outside
If you get scared, you might want to hide or wait for your parents. Don’t. As soon as you know there is a fire, follow your emergency exit plan and get outside. Don’t ever go back in for a toy, a pet, or anything else.

Stop Drop and Roll

If your clothes catch fire, remember to stop, drop and roll

3. Fall & Crawl
Smoke and heat rise up, so if it’s too hot or hard to breath, fall to your stomach and crawl out of your home. Practice this move during your fire drills.

4. Stop, Drop & Roll
If your clothes catch fire, stop where you are, drop to the ground, and roll around until the fire goes out. Though you may want to run, running will only make the fire worse. Practice stopping, dropping, and rolling during your fire drills.

5. Meeting Place
Remember to go to your meeting place outside. If someone is missing, tell the firefighters. They have special clothing that will protect them from fire.