Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fire Drill

The fire trucks in our cul de sac
We woke up this morning to the screech of the fire alarms in our house going off. We didn't smell smoke or see flames, but after a few minutes of trying to figure it out I ushered all of the kids outside and called the fire department. They came and checked things out and determined that there was a weird short in the alarm system, so when one of the units stopped working it set off all the rest. I was kind of embarrassed to have them come out when there wasn't really a fire, but they said that we did the right thing. Gave us some reminder tips on fire safety. This was a bit of a wake up call for us, so I wanted to pass some reminders on to you all as well. Call a family meeting and talk together about how to keep your family safe in case of fire.

- Plan your evacuation routes from various rooms in the house. Make sure the children all know what they should do if they can't find you. Decide on a meeting place outside the house where people should gather. The mailbox might be a good choice for instance. Or the next door neighbor's home. Do a practice run with your children to be sure they understand.

- Be sure you have working fire extinguishers on every floor of the home. Particularly in kitchens and other rooms where fires often begin.

- Install smoke detectors if you haven't already...at a minimum one in the kitchen, in each bedroom, and near the furnace room. Set up a schedule to test them and change the batteries. Daylight savings time is a good reminder to check the alarms. It's a good idea to install carbon monoxide detectors on each level of the home as well. Carbon monoxide is odorless and deadly, so these can save lives.

- Have your dryer vents cleaned out annually, and vacuum out the sensors in the smoke alarms monthly. Keeping them clean insures that they can detect properly. Do annual maintenance on your furnace and air conditioning units to be sure they too are functioning properly.

- Visit a fire station open house with your kids so they can get to know the firefighters and see their uniforms. Children get scared in emergencies and firefighters can look very frightening through the smoke in their big suits and helmets. Familiarizing the kids with what a firefighter looks like can help them to trust them when needed.

-Place a flashlight in each bedroom, and teach the kids how and when to call 911.

- If you have a two story home, it is a good idea to purchase ladders to go in each bedroom so family members could escape through the windows without jumping if the doorway was blocked.

- Send copies of photos and important family papers to relatives or place them in a safe deposit box, or purchase a fire proof safe for such items. That way when an emergency strikes the only thing you are worrying about is the safety of the people involved.

- Don't forget the pets! Discuss together how you would be sure to get the pets outside in an emergency.

Thankfully in this case it turned out to only be a minor problem. My younger boys actually thought it was great fun and very exciting to see the firefighters drive up in the trucks. But I am thanking my lucky stars tonight that nothing bad happened. I am determined to revamp our family fire safety plan in case it's not just a fire drill next time.

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