We've talked about the importance of creating a physical map of your home and making sure that each member of your family understands how your plan will work.
The next step in creating an effective home evacuation plan is to practice your plan on a regular basis. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, "children as young as three years old can follow a fire escape plan they have practiced often. Yet, many families don't have detailed escape plans, and those that do usually don't practice them."
Some important steps to include while practicing your home evacuation plan are:
- Involve everyone. It is important for everyone in the family to learn how to escape. You may even want to teach your children how to escape out of windows in case the door is unavailable to exit. A good fire escape ladder is essential if your exit is through a second story window.
Fire Escape Ladder
- Consider arranging the furniture in each room to make it easier to escape. A dresser or nightstand placed under a window could make escaping out of a basement much easier.
- Place your 72-hour kits strategically near an exit so they are easy to grab in a hurry. When you practice, assign certain family members to be in charge of grabbing emergency kits.
3-Day Emergency Kit
- Practice turning off utilities (gas valves, water, etc.). A gas wrench is a useful tool to make sure you have on hand. Caution: Don't really turn off the gas when practicing. If you do, the gas company will have to come out and turn it on again.
Emergency Gas Wrench
- Practice other life-saving habits such as always leaving a pair of shoes, gloves and a flashlight or lightstick at each person's bedside.
- Practice with time in mind. Try running through your disaster plan at least 4 times each year and adjust your plan according to the changing ages of family members.
Click here for part one of the Creating a Home Evacuation Plan series.