There are over 100 wildfires currently burning across the U.S, most of them in the West. Many of them are threatening homes and businesses. No matter where you live, no matter the time of year, the threat of fire is real.
According to Carrie Housman, a spokesperson for the Red Cross, your family may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home. It's crucial that every household create a fire safety plan and practice it until everyone can escape in less than two minutes. Here's how:
1. Create an Escape Plan
First, gather your family and walk through each room in your house. Discuss the possible exits and escapes. According to Housman, your plan should include at least two ways to escape from every room. If you have young children, make a map with them of your home and indicate the possible escape routes.
Once you've established the exits, show your children how to get out of the house. Before opening a door, it's important to touch it first. If the door is hot, keep it closed and find another way out. Show them how to exit a smokey building by dropping to their bellies and shimmying out under the smoke.
2. Pick a Meeting Place
Choose a place where family members can meet once they get out of the home safely. According to Housman, the location of this meeting spot will depend on where you live. Make sure the spot you choose is easy to get to and far enough away from the burning home. Once you pick a location, make sure everyone in your family knows exactly where to meet.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
According to Housman, it isn't enough to just create a plan. You need to practice your plan until each and every member of your household can escape in less than two minutes. Practice yelling fire several times and leaving through different rooms in different scenarios. Practice crawling under smoke and testing door handles.
Make sure everyone knows that if there is fire to get out, call for help and never go back inside.
Once you have it down, practice at least twice a year.
4. Check Smoke Alarms
A fire safety plan will only work if you have fully operational smoke detectors on each level of your home. According to Housman, "Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half." Test your smoke alarms once a month and change the batteries twice a year.
For more fire safety tips, check out our fire safety resource page to help teach your kids what to do in a fire emergency.