Creating a Fire Evacuation Plan

With multiple fires currently burning in Arizona – and one pretty close to home just 16 miles South of Prescott near Crown King – we thought now would be a good time to talk about how you can implement a fire evacuation plan in your household.

Whether it’s a house fire, wildfire, or a fire from something else, it’s always good to be prepared and have a plan in place to execute in an emergency.

An evacuation plan is necessary for every home, especially if you live in an area where fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, and other disasters are a possibility. So, in case of a fire, what kind of evacuation plan should you have prepared and ready to use with your family members and pets? Below are just a few things to consider when creating your fire evacuation plan.

Have a Plan for Everyone: Consider the special needs of everyone in your household, including young children, pets, and elderly family members who may not be very mobile. Children don’t always wake when a smoke alarm sounds, so make sure someone is assigned to help them and choose a backup person in case the assigned person is away at the time of the fire.

For Pets: Assign pet evacuation to an adult. This allows the other parent/adult and the children to focus on their part of the evacuation plan, so there’s no confusion during a high-stress moment when time is of the essence. Keep evacuation maps and pet carriers readily accessible. If you need to evacuate, you should know exactly where every important item is. Include your pets in your home evacuation drills. Getting your dog out of a window may not be as simple as you think!

Have Multiple Exits: Visit each room of your house and find at least two ways out, including windows and doors. Make sure all escape routes open easily so you can get outside. Also, install emergency release devices on any security bars that are placed on doors or windows.

Choose a Meeting Spot: In the case of a house fire, decide on a meeting place outside, such as a neighbor’s house, mailbox or stop sign. It should be in the front of the house so emergency responders can see you when they arrive. Agree not to go back into the house after you leave. For wildfires, listen to emergency personnel on the scene on when and where to evacuate to.

Check Smoke Alarms: Check that smoke detectors are properly placed and working. The National Fire Protection Association recommends installing them in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping room and on every level of the home.

If You Can’t Get Out: If the planned exit routes are blocked and it’s not possible to leave the house, close all doors between you and the fire. Place a towel under the door and go to an exterior-facing window. Call the fire department to report your location.

Practice regularly: Practice and review the plan regularly (at least once a year) so that everyone knows the plan, and it stays fresh in their minds for if a fire were to occur. Consider having your children help create a fire evacuation plan too. Draw a map of the home and have children mark two exit routes and the locations of smoke detectors.

In Arizona, fires – especially wildfires – are common this time of year. It is imperative that you and your family have a plan and know what to do in an emergency situation such as this. Stay safe out there and create a fire evacuation plan. Even if it’s something you never end up needing to use, which we hope(!), at least you are prepared should it occur, rather than the alternative of a fire happening and not being prepared at all.

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