It’s Fire Prevention Week, and this year the Arlington County Fire Department and fire departments across the country are working to educate their communities about the small but important actions everyone can take to keep themselves and those around them safe.
In a typical home fire, you may have as little as two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Remember … Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!
Here are five things you can do this week to ensure your family is prepared in the event of a house fire.
1. Plan Your Escape Route
To get started, draw a simple map of your home (you can use the National Fire Prevention Association guide), and make sure to include all doors and windows. As a family, go room by room to identify two ways you could get outside from each room. Make sure to check that all windows and doors are safe to access and open.
RELATED: What to do when there’s a fire
2. Test Your Smoke Alarms
On your map, mark the locations of all smoke alarms in your home. There should be at least one on every level of your home, in each bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. Have an adult push the test button on each alarm to ensure that it has working batteries.
Pro tip: Change your batteries twice a year—when you change your clocks for daylight savings. And replace your smoke alarms every 10 years. Or you can buy a 10–year sealed battery smoke alarm.
3. Choose a Meeting Place
Identify a place outside of your home where your entire family can meet up. Select a place that is far enough away from your home to be safe, but you can also get to easily. And make sure it’s a place that never moves—think tree or mailbox, not vehicle or sign.
4. Make a Regular Reminder
Once you have finalized your plan, post it in a place where everyone in your family can see it and regularly be reminded of what to do in an emergency. Does everyone in your family know how to call 911 or the phone number for a trusted neighbor? Post emergency phone numbers and other important numbers somewhere easily visible.
5. Practice Home Fire Drills
A plan doesn’t work unless you practice! Put your plan into action by conducting a home fire drill at least twice a year. Want more than that? Consider making it a habit to practice leaving the house if your smoke alarm goes off when it’s not an emergency (not that anyone ever burns dinner!).