This is fire safety week in Canada. It seems like just weeks ago that my little girl and I experienced one of the worst nights of our lives. It was a deadly night. It took just a minute and we had a way out. The young woman who died just a few feet from where my daughter slept normally had no way out. My neighbour was in her early twenties when she died that night. This is Fire Safety Week and often I think back on that night and remember. It takes just a moment to have a way out, it’s even better to plan two ways out.
I remember the firemen at my door, alerting us to the fire (the fire alarm had not gone off), I remember wrapping my daughter in her favorite blanket and carrying her down the stairs. I remember standing on the street with her and watching the fire roar as it ripped through the 30 unit apartment building adjacent to mine. I remember the friend across the street who took us in and let me put my little girl back to sleep. I remember the hotel accommodation thanks to the Red Cross, Dress for Success who ensured I had clothes so I could go to work in a few days. I was blessed that with friends who helped in the days after the fire. It is an event I would never wish on any family.
My young neighbour died because she had no way out. The flames engulfed her unit very quickly. Had she been alerted, she may have been able to use one of the exits available. Like her, we had just moved into the building a few weeks before. We were excited about a new larger place. I hadn’t even thought of an exit plan. Since then, every time we have moved to a new home we develop an exit plan our first few days in the house. We know our two ways out. With this being Fire Safety Week, it may be time to develop your own home fire escape plan.
So how do you develop a home fire escape plan?
- Ensure you have working smoke alarms on every story and near all sleeping areas. We have one hear my daughter’s room and one near mine. We replace the batteries twice a year. Did you know you should also replace your smoke alarm every ten years?
- Develop a home escape plan that is shared with all family members. Each member needs to know where the 2 exits are that they could use in the case of an emergency.
- Practice your escape plan with everyone.
- Help those who need it. Know who will help who. Who is responsible for the kids? an elderly parent?
- Get down and under the smoke. Most deaths are from smoke inhalation.
- Assign a meeting spot a safe distance from your home.
- Stay out. You never want to re-enter a burning building. Call the fire department from outside your home.
Please take from one who has lived through a fire, you want to have a fire escape plan. Tell me have you developed and practiced your plan lately? Now, might be a good time to do so.