With all the news recently regarding natural disasters and terrorism fears, it is easy to forget that the most common emergency or disaster scenario effecting families are house fires. Home evacuation plans are crucial for every family and might be used in many types of emergencies requiring evacuation, but they are especially important for fire planning.
Taking the time to plan and practice can mean the difference between life and death. There are many aspect to consider, but the 4 most crucial aspects to emergency disaster preparedness in the home are related to escape.
- Make a detailed map of your home
- Practice escape drills
- Have a plan in case you are separated
- Have and practice using an emergency preparedness kit or pack.
Let’s go over these four crucial aspects to an escape plan in detail.
- Make a detailed map of your home – The map should include all entries and exits, including accessible windows. Label the primary and secondary escape route from each room. Label each room that someone sleeps in and who sleeps there. Label the shut off valves for gas, water and electricity. Designate a gathering place on the map, that is outside the home.
- Practice your escape plan – A plan is only as good as the knowledge and comfort level of the people using it. Everyone in the family must know how to escape, whether through a door or through a window. In a two story home, you’ll want to invest in a fire escape ladder that allows you to descend from an upstairs window. Experts recommend one in each room, especially if a hallway fire could block access from one room to the next. Practice shutting off valves for gas, electricity, etc..Don’t really do it, just make sure everyone knows where they are. Have a pair of shoes, gloves and a flashlight or light stick near every bed. Make sure everyone knows where the Emergency Disaster Preparedness kit is, and make a plan for someone grabbing it when you exit the house.
- Have a plan in case you are separated – In additions to having a gathering place designated outside the home you need some other plans in place as well. Have an out-of-state and out-of-town person designated as a contact, for each family to call in case you are separated. Try and have the phone numbers memorized, inside your cell phone and posted by phones in the house.
- Have and practice using you Emergency Disaster Preparedness Kit. – It has become common place for people to think in terms of a 72 hour kit, but more and more, as you speak with experts in the field, they are recommending a five day kit. This has to do with everything from how long it may take help to arrive in a larger scale disaster, to the better safe than sorry mentality of having a bit more water and food than you need, rather than a bit less. Once either purchase or put together your kit, take the time to familiarize yourself with the items insides and how to use them. In an emergency situation, it will be comforting to know what is there, and imperative to not add stress by being confused by the contents.
Emergency and Disaster Preparedness is not an option. An ounce of forethought now, is worth a pound of reaction later.