Waking up to a fire in your home is a very real concern for any home owner. In disorienting moments, every second is critical to making sure you and your loved ones exit the building quickly and safely. Every home should have a basic plan in place in case of a fire emergency, and this plan should be known inside and out by each member of the household. Here are some specific points, according to the National Fire Protection Association:
- Have a designated meet-up location that is a safe distance away from your home. Consider a neighbor’s mailbox, a street sign or lamp post. Make sure the location is within sight of your home, but far enough away that there is no risk of injury via the fire or smoke.
- Make sure your home’s street number is clearly identifiable from the road so that emergency responders can find your location. While it may seem obvious that they would know to look for the house with flames or smoke, it is possible that these won’t be visible from the outside. If your address is not properly displayed, consider putting the numbers on your mailbox or painting them on the curb.
- Every house member should have the emergency number for the fire department memorized, as well as the number of an emergency contact such as a family member, friend or neighbor.
- Inform any house guests of your plan and ensure they are comfortable with your protocols. This is especially important if you are hosting a sleepover or party for your children.
- If there is someone in the home with mobility issues, assign a house member as their designated assistant in case of emergency. Consider assigning a back up to this person, in case they are not home during an emergency.
- Once out of the home, make sure to stay outside until a professional responder has deemed the property safe. Even if there is someone missing, do not re-enter the burning building. Inform the responders of the missing individual and their presumed whereabouts within the building.
The most important thing to remember in case of emergency is to stay calm, remember your plan and trust the professional responders. They have the training and equipment to assist you in the most efficient manner.