Family Guide to Emergency Preparedness

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A few weeks ago we published a guide to hurricane preparedness in anticipation of the summer storms and some of our readers asked if we could also provide one for other emergency situations. Having a plan in place for emergency situations will mean your family knows exactly what to do when disaster strikes. In the first of our three part series, we take a look at how to prepare your family for fires.

Evacuation plan: Start with getting to safety in the event of a fire. Discuss ways to exit the house safely from every room so that, no matter where your family members are when disaster strikes, they already know the best escape route.

Check that you also have evacuation plans in place at your work and at school. Decide on a meeting place where family members need to go to should they get separated or be in different locations. Be sure that you pick a place that is very familiar and easy to navigate to. Know where your nearest shelters are and whether they take pets.

Phone numbers: Program all the important numbers for emergency services, family and friends into your phones and your children’s phones. Make sure that you also have a hard copy of numbers in case your phone isn’t functional.

Basic fire safety: Check smoke alarms every year and keep a fire extinguisher on each floor of your home. Ensure that your children know where these are located and how to use them.

In the event of a fire: If you are in a closed room when a fire starts, take precautionary steps to ensure that you are able to evacuate safely.

  • Check around the door for smoke so that you know if there’s fire on the other side of the door. If you do notice smoke, don’t open the door. Try to exit through the window or call for help. If you can’t get out, push curtains, clothing, towels or cushions in around the door to prevent smoke from getting in.
  • If there is no smoke coming in under or around the door, gently touch the handle and the door to see if it is hot. If it’s hot, don’t open the door.
  • If the handle and door aren’t hot, slowly and carefully open the door to see if there is smoke or flames on the other side.
  • If you do see smoke or flames, close the door. If your path to the exit is clear, leave the building as quickly as you can, making sure to close doors behind you.
  • If there is thick smoke but no flames, wrap a sweater or t-shirt around your mouth and crawl to the exit.
  • Use the stairs, don’t use the elevator.
  • If you have access to a fire alarm, pull it to alert other occupants of the danger.

Additional Resources

London Fire Brigade

Canadian Emergency Guide

Fire safety song

pic by DVIDS
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