11 Steps to a successful home fire drill

Climbing through windows

I pulled in the driveway just in time to see my 6 year old niece climbing out the front window of the house.  As rambunctious and energetic as she is, this was unusually daring, even for her.  She jumped to the ground and barreled past me, making a bee-line for the mailbox.

And then I saw my sister climbing through the window too.

And it dawned on me.

It’s National Fire Prevention Week.

My sister and her family were having a fire drill.

The Home Fire Drill

As parents, we don’t want to scare our children unnecessarily.  We worry about them being fearful.  We worry about them being too daring.  Basically, we can’t win the worry war.  However, it is extremely important for children to physically practice going through a home fire drill, so that they can be prepared.  They need to practice escaping from their house.  No amount of talking about it is going to make as good of an impression as crawling through the window!  In a true fire emergency, when the child is panicking, they won’t remember a thing that you ever said about fire safety.  But there’s a chance that they will remember crawling across the floor on their stomachs, opening the window, pushing out the screen, and climbing out – because they actually did it.

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11 Steps to a Successful Home Fire Drill

  1. TEACH THEM NOT TO HIDE.  No going under beds or inside of closets.  You want to be visible so that you can be rescued!  This may be the single most important lesson in the home fire drill.  When children are afraid, they hide.  It’s their nature.  You need to teach children not to hide, and explain why this is so important.
  2. Teach them to feel the door for heat, and what to do if it’s hot on the other side
  3. If they have to stay put, teach them to stuff clothes under the door to block the smoke
  4. Teach them to get low to avoid breathing smoke
  5. Teach them an alternate escape route if the stairway is on fire
  6. Teach them how to unlock the window and push out the screen – do not assume that kids know how to do this!
  7. If their window is too high for them to jump without injury, teach them how to stick a white t-shirt in the window like a flag to alert firemen
  8. If their window is low enough, teach them to jump into the bushes to break their fall
  9. Teach them a family meeting spot, away from the house, such as the mailbox or the sidewalk.
  10. Teach all your children how to call 911.  They need to know which phone to use, which one doesn’t have a passcode on it, or how to get around the passcode.  Most cell phones will allow you to dial 911 without putting in the passcode.  But you need to teach children how to do this!


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