Family Home Escape Plan
Get out to be safe!
Through our children’s karate and tae kwon do program at Premier Martial Arts we know teaching children how to focus, show respect, get, and set goals are very important, however, we feel of equal importance is teaching well-rounded safety skills that will serve and protect their entire lives. The great part is the more we teach kids life skills the easier it becomes to teach safety skills and vice versa. In this article, we will focus on mapping out a family home escape plan in case of fire or home invasion.
First, when constructing a family escape plan, evaluate each member of your family’s ability to safely exit the house in a time-efficient manner. A young child, an aging parent, or anyone else with difficulties must be taken into account. Decide who is best suited among the family to help assist them to escape. Placing a small postcard-sized note with the word ‘emergency’ on the chosen helper door and the family member’s name (or better yet picture) of who will need assistance will help keep their duty top of mind. In an emergency situation, despite the combination of adrenalin, lack of sleep, and possibly smoke, this top of mind awareness may help them quickly and clearly remember who they need to help get out.
Each member of the family must know two ways to exit each room in the house; one primary escape route and one alternate. This is if in case of a fire or a home intruder where one route becomes blocked and is unsafe. Having a second escape route could be a lifesaver.
Make sure that all family members know where the pre-designated meeting place will be once they have exited the house. This meeting place should be a safe distance in case of fire but close enough that all members can get to it quickly. If the meeting place is across the street then take other factors into accounts such as traffic or construction.
Make sure that all family members know how to open (and lock) all windows and doors. Special window locks can be cumbersome without light so make sure that you can open them both quickly and quietly.
Be prepared by keeping a flashlight and whistle within reach of your bed. Use the flashlight to help find the way out or as a tool for self-defense. Use the whistle to rouse other family members and to signal help.
Make sure that all children know to use 9-1-1, request the right service (ambulance, fire, or police) memorize their street address and their home phone number. Role-play with them and have them understand the importance of the system and never abuse it. Having this crucial information written down on the phone or by the phone is important because when an emergency happens, recalling basic information may be difficult.
Practice your escape plan by practicing home fire drills. The younger your family is, the more frequently you should practice these drills. Give advance notice that over the next week or days you will have a practice drill. Review the basic elements of your plan, where the meeting place is, who will assist those who need extra help, and what routes they should take. Then at a good time, run the drill and time your family. Post the result and practice until you are satisfied.
Teaching kids these skills help make them more confident and responsible. By being prepared, having a plan, and then practicing the plan keeps a family sharp, aware, and safe, which will help everyone to sleep a little sounder.