Every year, thousands of people die or are injured in house fires. With proper awareness, prevention, and preparation this number can be significantly reduced. One way to prepare your family for a fire is by practicing Exit Drills in the Home, otherwise known as EDITH.
Make a Fire Escape Plan: Draw a floor plan of your home and mark 2 ways out of every room, especially the bedrooms. Go over these escape routes with every member of your household.
Identify a Meeting Place: Identify an outside meeting place a safe distance in front of your home where everyone knows to meet. This can be anything from a neighbor’s driveway, to a tree, to a mailbox. Any safe place, away from the building, that everyone knows how to find.
Test Your Smoke Detectors: The more often the better but you should check your smoke detector batteries at least every six months. An easy way to remember is to plan this for when you change your clocks. Additionally, you should replace your smoke alarms every five to ten years. If you’re unsure how old an alarm is, your best bet is to check the date printed on the back or just replace it as soon as possible.
Practice, Practice, Practice: Your fire escape plan may look great on paper, but does it really work? Does everyone remember what to do? Regular exit drills in the home will allow you to test the plan and make adjustments as needed. When practicing your exit drills in the home, remember to identify alternate escape routes as well.
- Smoke kills! Do not get up and run when your smoke alarm goes off. Instead, roll out of bed, and then crawl on the floor to the door. Smoke rises, so the air will be easier to breathe at the floor level. Heat also rises, so it will be cooler there as well.
- Before you open the door, check it with the back of your hand for heat. Start feeling at the bottom and work your way up to the door handle. If the door or handle is hot – do not open the door. Find a second way out of the room!
- If there is smoke outside the door, close the door and stuff the crack to keep the smoke out.
- Don’t hide! Firefighters can’t help you if they can’t find you. Make as much noise as you can and let the firefighters know where you are.
- If you can, close doors behind you as you leave. This will slow the spread of smoke and flames throughout your home.
- Go directly to your meeting place. Do not stop to find your pets or valuables.
- Get out and stay out. Never go back inside a burning building for anything.
- Dial 9-1-1 from a neighbor’s house or a phone outside of the building.
- Account for every family member at the meeting place and report any missing members to the fire department and their last known location.