We've all got smoke alarms nowadays haven't we? Some even have carbon monoxide alarms. We know the do's and don'ts of using candles, smoking in bed all that kind of stuff. But so few people seem to have an escape plan in place should a fire break out in your home. According to statistics two people every day die in house fires. This is a subject that has been playing on my mind a lot lately. In October last year six people from one family all died in a house fire in Essex, leaving a husband, a father alone in the world. I cannot, imagine anything more horrible or more painful.
At the time a friend of mine was involved in dealing with the aftermath of this fire. As a mother it affected her terribly and she wrote to several of her friends urging them to think about creating a Fire Plan for their homes.
I think most people remember the Fire Services saying "Get out! Get the Fire Brigade out! And stay out!" but have you thought about what your escape route would be in the event of a fire. There is little point in trying to think straight in the middle of the night if something awful happens. A simple preemptive discussion could make all the difference.
Plan together. Make sure that your children would know what to do. You don't need to frighten them, just a simple talk should cover it. Make sure they know that in an emergency they should not go looking for favourite toys or pets. Think about your escape routes. What is the easiest way out of your house? What are your alternatives if this route is blocked? Make sure that you keep house keys and window keys handy and that everyone knows where they can be found.
The fire service also suggest that you have think about having an "Escape Room", give some thought to which room in your house would be the best to survive in if there is a fire. Your room should have a window that is large enough for you to climb through (no point just having a sky light). Ideally your room should also have a telephone with which to call the emergency services. Make sure your children know your address (if they are old enough) in case they have to telephone themselves. If you are calling from a mobile phone it's worth knowing that the European emergency number is 112 and that dialling this number will override locked keypads. If you are unable to telephone the emergency services before entering your Escape Room you will need to raise the alarm. If your window is locked and you do not have the key use a heavy object to smash it. Strike the window in the corner with your chosen object as hard as you can.
The best location for an Escape Room is at the front of your house so you can raise the alarm by shouting and so you can be seen by others. Draw attention to yourselves. Lean out of the window to breathe fresh air if necessary. If at all possible try decide on an Escape Room with grass or earth below the window, or a shed or porch below it to allow you to drop down in stages.
You should only escape from a window if you are in immediate danger from fire. This should be a last resort. Block the bottom of the Escape Room door with bedding or clothing to stop smoke from coming through. If you are escaping from an upstairs bedroom throw the mattress out of the window to try and cushion your landing. If you have two or more adults in the house, one should drop first and then assist with helping children to escape. They should be lowered as much as possible and then dropped so that the adult at ground level is there to help them. Never jump from a window.
This link provides some excellent information on drawing up a Fire Escape Plan.
A short conversation going over these things really could save your life. Think about it. Decide on your Fire Plan. Please.