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When I was little, I think around 4 years old, my family home caught on fire. Thankfully, my entire family was safe, but I to this day can remember bits and pieces of that day. While it is something I hope my children never have to experience, one thing it has done is help me understand how important it is to be prepared for an emergency in our home.
How To Prepare Your Home & Family For Emergencies
Every single month, my family sits down and talks about emergencies that could happen in our home and how we should handle them. Now that my twins are four, and my oldest is hitting double digits, we decided it was time to update our emergency plans, as well as make sure our home was equipped for the emergencies we might encounter.
Did you know that the National Fire Protection Association recommends having both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms installed on every level of your home, including the basement, and near every sleeping area? Every level, every bedroom. (That is an easy way to remember it, right?)
Set your home up for an emergency
Every second counts when there is an emergency like a fire, so it is important to make sure your home is set up with the right equipment to help you execute your emergency escape plans. First Alert products are reliable, so we set up our home with their products to help us have every second possible if an emergency arose.
First Alert also has a great table top carbon monoxide alarm. I placed one in my office on the shelf as it is tucked away from the rest of the house.
How To Create A Home Emergency Escape Plan
It can feel a bit overwhelming to make an emergency escape plan, but I am going to give you the steps below. One thing I want to mention is with young kids, do not make this a full day event. I suggest taking 30-60 minutes each month to talk about what to do in case of an emergency, such as a fire, and practice the plan with young kids. Also, be sure to keep the conversation at their level, and be ready to answer questions. Do not use scare tactics, but rather plain language that they can understand, letting them know why we practice.
When it comes to creating a home emergency escape plan, keep these three words in mind – Plan, Practice, Repeat! This is not a one and done deal, and it is important to practice over and over with your family.
Create a Home Escape Plan – Free Printable!
Do your kids know how to get out of every room in the home if there is a fire or other emergency?
It can be hard for kids to visualize when you are sitting there talking about getting out of a room, but First Alert has created a printable escape plan where you can draw a map of your home and the exits.
Know at least 2 ways out of every room
When creating your map, be sure to draw in furniture, windows, and door ways. We talked to our kids and mentioned things like “If you were on the couch, what are 2 ways you could get out?” Or saying where the fire is, and asking them which way they should go to get out.
Tip: Use colored crayons to draw different escape routes from each room.
Set a meeting place.
Where will your family meet in case of an emergency? This is an important step that families often forget to plan for. My family has dedicated a neighbor’s home to meet in front of and in the winter, our kids know that they can go up to the neighbor’s home if it is cold outside. We are very specific about which home it is, making sure it is a safe distance, and even dedicated a spot on the side walk that has a street sign by it to make it easy to remember.
Practice your emergency escape plan!
Practice your emergency escape plan at least 2 times per year. As I mentioned above, we have smaller children, so we find going over our home’s emergency escape plan once a month is a great fit for our family. However, as our children get older, we will probably lower this amount. Even as your kids reach their teens though, it is important to practice a few times per year.
Teach your children how to escape
One thing that is hard for parents to know is when is it appropriate to teach kids how to escape on their own. I get it. We felt our preschoolers were ready to start learning. If you need help teaching your kids how to escape a fire, many fire stations will do tours and then talk to your kids about how to escape in case of an emergency.
One thing we wanted to do was make sure our kids knew how to use the equipment in their room, mainly their escape ladder. My husband talked to them about the escape ladder, and let them know how to use it. While we are only in a one story home right now, we have small (short) children, so felt it was important to teach them about the ladder.
Talk to your kids about calling 911
Teach your kids about calling 911 after they get out, or in case of other emergencies. Help them learn their address, and also, make sure they know to go to a neighbor’s home if they do not have a phone to call from.
Keep your equipment in working condition
Don’t forget to regularly check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to make sure they are working properly. Check that you have fire extinguishers in your home, especially in the kitchen.
Plan, Practice, Repeat!