Does your family know what to do in a fire emergency? If a blaze breaks out, you may only have moments to react, so preparation is of the utmost importance. During Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 8 to 14) in Ontario, it’s worth remembering that every second counts when it comes to dealing with a fire. That’s why families should have more than one escape plan: If your primary route is blocked, you’ll have another option to get to safety.
Some other important tips to remember to keep your family safe, should the unexpected ever occur:
Smoke alarms save lives. Test them regularly to ensure they’re working properly, and replace the battery if needed. Also check to see that the units are still within their useful lifespan. It is recommended that homeowners replace their smoke alarms every 10 years. Nowadays, companies like First Alert offer long-lasting sealed-battery alarms; the battery is meant to last for the full 10-year life of the alarm.
Make certain, too, that the alarms are installed in the right spots in your home—at minimum, that means one smoke alarm on every floor (including the basement). And don’t forget fire extinguishers! Have one of these handy near the kitchen, in case of cooking accidents, and in other areas with potential fire hazards, such as your garage.
Having an evacuation plan can help to avoid panic and confusion during a fire. You should designate at least two escape routes, in case a door or window on one route is blocked by smoke or fire. Don’t forget to train your little ones and instruct them to tell an adult if they see or smell smoke—even if it’s during the night.
Review and practice your escape route with everyone in your home. Make sure that all exits are practical and easy to use. These practice fire drills are important because in the event of a real fire, you need to react fast as smoke or flames may quickly block your escape routes. Designate a meeting spot (one that will be a safe distance from any potential blaze), in case you aren’t all able to escape the first via the same route.
Don’t waste valuable seconds calling 9-1-1 from inside your home. Once you’ve escaped and are outside, then call emergency services from a cell phone or a neighbour’s home.
Contact your local fire department for even more tips on how to prevent fire emergencies in your home, and how to keep your family safe should a fire occur.