In my world of teaching, I recall October as the month that included lesson plans around fire safety and awareness. As I dive further into parenthood, that includes plans for what that looks like in our home.
Three years ago, just a few months after my second daughter was born, I had a scare in the kitchen with the oven. When I began the preheat setting, sparks began to form on the heating elements inside the oven. I had a four-year-old and infant in tow, and my husband was still at work.
My first thought was to turn the oven off, but I saw some (small) visible flames inside the oven. I went into panic mode and called 9-1-1 since I wasn’t sure if there was a bigger fire behind the stove panel. I immediately exited the house with my girls as the house began to fill with smoke. Firefighters arrived quickly, turned off the breakers to the oven, and thankfully the sparks and flame were contained to the oven. They helped ventilate our house with big fans, ensuring the safe return to our house.
I was grateful at that moment that the situation wasn’t worse. However, it had me rethinking our emergency plans with kids in the house, and what to teach them if it ever happens again.
First, think about the layout of your house. Here are some tips to consider when creating fire safety plans for your family:
What does fire safety look like in your kitchen?
- Is a fire extinguisher handy in the event of an emergency?
- Check all appliances and make sure they are in proper working order; unplug when not in use.
- While you are cooking, never leave the stovetop or oven unattended. A skillet or pot could easily overrun and catch fire.
How about your living or family room?
- Do you have a wood stove or fireplace that is regularly cleaned and maintained?
- Make sure lit candles and fireplaces are never unattended.
- Have an extinguisher nearby if you regularly use a fireplace or woodstove.
How about the layout of exits and a safe meeting place in the case of an emergency?
- For homes with multiple levels, consider escape ladders to provide an additional exit.
- Assign a meeting spot outside that is a safe distance away from your house like the mailbox, tree, or neighbor’s house. Make sure everyone in the household knows where to meet once they get out of the house.
- First Alert has created a printable escape plan that can help you visualize, with your family, what’s best for your home.
- Is your home address clearly visible for first responders if you need to call 9-1-1?
For each level of your home, do you have:
- Carbon Monoxide detectors/alarms?
- Fire extinguishers?
- Smoke alarms?
Perhaps you have a child that is old enough to teach to use the phone to dial 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. Help them learn your address too, to be able to speak with the responders.
I know I haven’t covered everything, as there will be different needs in every family’s emergency plans. I hope you don’t need to use them, but this may help you think about how to plan for a “what-if” situation.