Sep 04, 2018

Creating and practicing a fire escape plan could save your life

You see it almost daily in the news: orange flames ripping through homes, causing instant devastation to families.

Often, precious family photos and mementos are destroyed.

Sometimes, lives are lost.

Would you be ready to save yourself and your family members if flames tear through your house tonight?

Creating and practicing a fire escape plan could play a crucial role in your survival, according to experts.

September is National Preparedness Month, making it a good time to plan and practice an escape plan with your family.

“There is value in practicing a fire escape plan, especially if you have children or people in the household who are easily stressed,” said Allyson Kilheffer, a PPL Electric Utilities senior engineer and volunteer firefighter in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania. “Sometimes you only have a few seconds or a minute to get out.”

Through its website, https://www.ready.gov/, the Department of Homeland Security offers tips for responding to a variety of disasters. This year’s National Preparedness Month theme –  “Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How” is featured prominently on the website.

The Department of Homeland Security says you should practice a home fire escape plan twice a year, with these tips in mind:

● Find two ways to get out of each room in case the primary exit is blocked by fire or smoke.

● A secondary route might be a window onto a neighboring roof or a collapsible ladder for escape from upper-story windows.

● Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be properly opened.

● Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.

● Teach children not to hide from firefighters.

Kilheffer has taken part in escape drills on her hands and knees with a mask over her face and said losing vision – like you would in a fire – makes escaping much more difficult. She suggests putting sleep masks over kids’ eyes while practicing a fire escape plan. With no masks, kids will likely peek.

“Getting around furniture with no vision is no easy task,” she said. “The more you practice it, especially with kids, the better you’ll be at finding your way out safely.”

Another benefit to practicing fire escape plans with your kids is that they could realize the importance of having a clean room with clear paths to get out, Kilheffer said.

Visit https://www.ready.gov/ for more fire safety tips. Kilheffer suggests reaching out to your local fire department for information