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We’re used to Health & Safety policies at work. We follow procedure, undergo training, and practice escaping the premises in the event of an emergency. However, few people think seriously about what to do in case of emergency at home. For example, in the event of a fire or flood, etc. Putting a simple plan in place for you and your family could be the difference between life and death.
The National Fire Protection Association has put together some invaluable notes on fire escape planning. It’s important that everyone in your home is aware of the plan and what to do in case of emergency. This should be shared with the whole family, including your kids. Make sure kids are aware of the emergency 911 number and that they have memorized this.
First, walk around your home and assess each room. You’re looking for exits and escape routes. Keep these areas clear and free from clutter at all times. If windows or doors are locked for security reasons, ensure the key can be located quickly.
Allocate a meeting area that is a safe distance away from the house. This is where you will meet the rest of your family once you have exited the building.
If you have very young children, older relatives, or occupants with mobility issues, they may need assistance to leave. Make sure you allocate a member of the family who can help them to safety.
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Once you have a plan in place, test it. Practice this twice a year and keep a note of how long it takes everyone to reach safety. Go over any areas that require improvement.
Of course, it’s not just fires that create emergencies. Disaster can strike in many forms including, home intrusion, accidents, illness, floods, etc. All of these instances will require their own plan. Keep an emergency box in place which includes a flashlight with spare batteries, first-aid kit, emergency phone numbers, etc. This will make it easier in a tough situation when chaos often ensues and people panic. Only stop to retrieve these items if it is safe to do so.
The way to tackle emergency situations is through prevention. The following are some simple steps to take to prevent accidents and emergencies and to protect your family:
- Take steps to protect water tanks and pipes, etc. Installing a heating cable will provide steady heat and prevent pipes from freezing in cold conditions. Frozen pipes can lead to bursts and flooding.
- Instal smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and test them on a monthly basis.
- Inspect electrical cables and replace any that appear worn or damaged.
- Switch off as many electrical devices as possible when they are not in use.
- Never leave candles or food cooking on the stove unattended.
- Ensure that any sources of heat have adequate space around them.
- Learn some basic first aid skills and encourage the whole family to get involved.
- Keep your home clean and free from clutter. This makes escaping in the dark much easier. It also provides fewer materials to feed a fire.
No-one wants to imagine their family being harmed or in danger, but sometimes accidents happen. Setting up a few simple safety procedures and establishing a disaster plan can save valuable minutes and seconds during an emergency. Is your plan in place?