What good is a plan if it is never practiced or used?
The American Red Cross of Southwestern New York encourages the creation of a disaster plan - and practicing it. In less than three minutes, a home could be totally engulfed in flames, so every second counts when it comes to an emergency. Each household member should know how to react quickly and calmly.
Take some time to call a "family meeting" to discuss what to do if a fire occurs in the home. Create a floor plan of the home and identify at least two ways - doorway and a window for example - out of every room, especially the bedrooms. If a home has two or more floors, escape ladders can be placed in or near windows to provide an escape if needed. Identify a meeting place outside the home where everyone can go to and know each other is safe. Remind everyone to never go back inside. Call the fire department from outside the home as quickly as possible.
The majority of fatal fires occur when people are sleeping, so working smoke alarms are essential. Smoke alarms serve as an early warning device, notifying of the potential fire. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level both inside and outside of each sleeping area. Testing the smoke alarms on a regular basis not only ensures the alarms are working properly, it also makes everyone aware of the sound the alarm makes.
Some people have installed sprinkler systems in their homes and businesses. These systems are designed to put the fire out before it can become a problem and could keep the fire contained to one area. This is just another layer of security and precaution, not a replacement of calling the fire department to put out the fire.
For more information on fire safety visit www.redcross.org.