If a fire broke out in your home, would you and your family be prepared with an escape plan?
There have been at least four house fires and one blaze at an apartment building in the Edmonton area in the past week alone. The fires led to at least two hospitalizations.
According to Edmonton Fire Rescue Services, most fires occur in the middle of the night when people are sleeping. When a fire breaks out, there is little time to consider an escape plan.
EFRS urges people to have a plan in place to escape their home and practice that plan regularly in order to be prepared for an emergency.
Tips to make a fire escape plan
To make a home fire escape plan, EFRS recommends drawing a map or blueprint of your home that shows all doors and windows.
It’s important to know at least two ways to escape every room, if possible. Residents should make sure all doors and windows leading outside can be easily opened.
Families should choose an outdoor meeting place that is a safe distance from the home. A specific lamp post or tree are a couple of ideas suggested by EFRS.
Everyone in the household must know to meet at the designated spot in the event of a fire or emergency.
The home fire drill should be practised both during the day and at night. Everyone in the house should practise the drill twice a year. The plan should be practised using different ways out of the home.
Children should be taught how to escape the house on their own in the event adults or parents are not available to help.
EFRS also recommends people close doors behind them as they leave. This may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.
How to get out safely
When the fire alarm sounds, EFRS said it’s important to get out and stay out.
When leaving the house, people should touch-test doors before opening them. If the door is cool, open it slowly and leave the building.
If the door is warm, use the second escape route.
If there is smoke in the house, residents should stay low and crawl where the air is cleaner, if possible.
Once outside, call 911. It’s important that people stay outside once they have escaped.
“Never go back inside for people or pets,” EFRS said.
What if you can’t escape?
If you cannot safely escape your home, immediately call 911 and give the operator your exact location.
Close the door and seal the openings around the door, as well as any vents with wet bedding or towels.
People should wait by a window and make their presence known to arriving emergency crews.
If it is safe to open the window and there is no smoke, open it and yell for help.
Escape plans for people who live in apartments
People who live in apartment or condo buildings should meet with the landlord or building manager to learn about the fire safety plans in the building.
Residents should know where all of the exit stairwells are from their floor, as well as where the muster point is located outside the building.
Plan escape for your abilities
People with mobility issues should keep necessary items like wheelchairs, canes, walkers or scooters nearby for easy access.
A phone should be kept near the bed in case you become trapped by smoke or fire.
Prepare an emergency kit
Everyone should have an emergency kit prepared. This can include things like:
- warm clothing
- list of emergency contacts
- hearing aids
- insurance information
- emergency cash/credit card
- copies of identification
- any other important documentation
It’s also important to have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, in every sleeping room and within five metres of all bedrooms. They should be tested monthly and replaced every 10 years. Batteries should be replaced at least once per year.
Carbon monoxide detectors should also be installed in the home.
For more fire safety information, visit Edmonton Fire Rescue Services’ website.