This is a good time of year for families to brush up on fire-escape strategies.
First, plan an escape route for everyone in the home. Outline at least two escape routes per room. Practice with the lights out, since most home fires occur at night. Children must understand not to hide from fire under their beds or in closets.
Set off the smoke alarm so everyone will recognize the sound.
Have children practice crawling, which is the best way to escape a smoky room or hallway. Emphasize that they should keep their heads within 12 inches of the ground, which helps them avoid the smoke in the air and the toxic gases that can be even closer to the floor.
Show them how to test a door that is closed: If it is hot, do not open it.
If it is not hot, open it cautiously, but if smoke rushes in, quickly close the door and exit through a window instead.
Remind children, if they ever are trapped in a fire, to keep doors closed and to stuff door cracks and vents with clothes or towels. Then wait at a window for firefighters.
Make sure children can give the family’s name and full address, and know how to dial 9-1-1 to report a fire. Agree in advance on a place where the family will meet once everyone escapes.
Finally, practice “stop-drop-and-roll” with all family members. This is the best response if someone’s clothes catch fire.
And remember: Safety practices are strengthened by constant reinforcement.