Fire Safety Planning for the Family
Fires are unpredictable and can spread quickly. In fact, you and your family may only have a few minutes to get out safely in the event of a serious blaze. The majority of fire-related deaths and injuries in Canada take place in residential properties so developing a personalized home fire safety plan will make sure that everyone in your family knows what to do in an emergency.
In this post, we’ll go over everything you should include in a fire safety plan and how to protect yourself, your family, and your home from fire.
Prevention is always the best approach to fire safety, but a forgotten candle or a cooking mishap can quickly turn into a serious problem. Make sure you’re alerted to a fire as quickly as possible by installing smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, and close to bedrooms. Set a reminder in your phone to test your alarms once a month and change the batteries when needed.
Keep a charged fire extinguisher on hand in an easily accessible location. Your kitchen, garage, close to your fireplace or near the outdoor fire pit are all good spots to have an extinguisher.
Map out an escape route
Call a family meeting and get everyone involved in mapping out a fire escape route. Sketch out a floor plan and identify all of the possible emergency exits in your home — it’s also important to identify alternative routes, such as windows, if your main exit is blocked by fire.
If you have a second storey, equip the upstairs rooms with an escape ladder and make sure you and your family know how to use it. Fire drills are mandatory at workplaces and schools, why not implement a semi-annual drill at home too?
When you’re planning your escape route, keep in mind those who may need extra help getting out of the home — like young children, elderly relatives or family members with disabilities.
Discuss general fire safety
Go over the basics of fire safety so everyone knows what to do if they smell smoke or hear a fire alarm. The first step should be to yell “Fire” as loud as possible to alert the rest of the household and then get to safety. If there is a lot of smoke, stay low to the ground and cover your mouth and nose with a towel, T-shirt or rag to avoid smoke inhalation. Practice stopping, dropping and rolling in case your clothes catch fire while trying to get out of the house.
Pick a meeting place
Once everyone is out of the home safely, a designated meeting spot is an important part of the plan. Pick a nearby lamp post, street sign or neighbour’s yard as a muster point where you can call 9-1-1. If someone from your family is missing, tell the emergency dispatcher or the first responders. Never re-enter a burning building.
Protect your important documents
Beyond personal safety, your plan should also include steps for keeping your important financial documents, family photo albums and valuable items safe from fire. Scan things like your medical records, legal documents, home and car titles and save copies to an external hard drive or cloud-based software. A fireproof safe can also be a good investment for keeping originals protected.