How to Run a Fire Drill for Your Family

Smoke crawling over smoke detector.

On the long list of "terrifying things" having a fire in your home is right up there in the top ten for sure. It's one of those things none of us like to think about, but it something that should be discussed as a matter of safety for your whole family. Every time we fly or attend the theater we're always told to make note of the "emergency exits." Shouldn't we be doing the same things in our own home?

First of all, you need an alarm to go off to alert you to a fire. So every home should have a smoke detector. Now that's that's in place, here are some of the steps you can follow to run a fire drill for your family:

Step 1 - Assess Your Location and Escape Routes

You might only have one door into your home or apartment, but what if that door is blocked or there is fire on the other side? There should always be alternative exit routes. Create a floor plan of your home and designate every possible exit route. Laminate the plans and have them ready to pass out.

Step 2 - Pick a Meeting Place

Depending on the circumstances, you might not all be able to leave the home by the same exit. That's why you need to pick a common meeting place. This is where your family will go in case of a fire. It could be a streetlamp out front or big oak tree out back.

Step 3 - Call a Family Meeting

Have a family meeting. You don't need to scare anyone because you're planning a fire drill. It's being smart and proactive. Go over the plans. For the young ones, they should know things like the home address and how to dial 9-1-1.

Step 4 - Run the Drills

You don't have to surprise your family in the middle of the night with a fire drill. However, you should run through a scenario where alternate routes are used. Suppose a back window onto a porch is an alternate route. How would you get down from that roof? You might discover in the drill that you need to install a ladder or have some other method for getting down from a second floor.

Step 5 - Drill Again

That first drill will be practice. As we all know, practice makes perfect. You should run the family fire drill at least twice a year. Why not? It shouldn't take long and its one of those things you need to do over and over again so it will sink in.

Additional Tips

Planning the escape route from your home is vital but there are other things to do in the case of a fire that should be drilled into your family.

  • When there is smoke, get to the floor and crawl
  • Before opening a door, touch it to see if it is warm. If so, don't open it. Find an alternate route.
  • If the door is cool, open the door and look for smoke. Then go in the opposite direction of the smoke.

Let's hope the drills will get your ready and you never, ever have to use them!

(Now that your family's ready, make sure your home is ready too. Check out how to prevent appliance fires.)