This is a sponsored post on behalf of Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen program.
A few months ago, the battery died in one of my home fire alarms. This caused complete mayhem in my house for one whole Saturday morning because it took several attempts to identify which alarm needed the new battery, and finally a trip to a home improvement store to replace one alarm – not to mention a whole lot of batteries in the house to get the alarms to stop blaring.
This wasn’t your run of the mill chirp from a single alarm—this was 7 alarms going off at once. I had not been diligent about replacing my batteries and testing my alarms. And my system was ANGRY. And my kids were terrified. Especially my 7-year-old.
That was a lightbulb moment for me.
Because I knew in that moment, that if an alarm sounded in my house, his instinct was to cover his ears, hide, and avoid. It wasn’t to flee.
That’s really bad.
Because home fires are the biggest disaster threat facing American families today—on average seven people died in the U.S. from home fires. Yet, only half of the parents surveyed said their children know what to do in the event of a home fire.*
Add to that the fact that most parents believe they have 5 minutes to get out in the event of a home fire. NO. Your family has less than two minutes to exit your home to safety.
Two minutes isn’t much time.
Especially if you’ve got children in the house that are either terrified of the sound of the alarm, or are unsure what to do if they hear it...OR BOTH.
Repeat after me: Practice makes perfect.
Your kiddos do this at school regularly. If you work in an office, I bet you’ve done it this year. But only half of American families have practiced a home fire drill—despite the fact that 9 in 10 structure fires happen in the home!
But guess what? Practicing a family home fire drill is SO EASY.
STEP 1: CHECK YOUR SMOKE ALARMS
- Make sure you have a smoke alarm on each floor.
- Make sure you have a smoke alarm in each bedroom.
- Test the alarm! (It’s okay to plug your ears.)
STEP 2: KNOW WHERE TO GO
- Pick a safe spot to meet as a family—look for an easy to remember landmark, preferably on the same side of the street, like a lamp post or a tree.
STEP 3: PRACTICE THE FIRE DRILL
- Have everyone head to their bedrooms and shut the door.
- If you have a kiddo under the age of six, assign an adult to help them.
- Have an adult sound the alarm so you can help younger kids get used to the actual sound of the alarm and practice moving through the house calmly and quickly while the alarm is going off. (Practice makes perfect!)
- Gather at the meeting spot.
- Did you make it out in under 2 minutes?
- If you didn’t, try again. Heck, try again anyway. (Did I mention practice makes perfect?)
- Remind your family in that in the event of a real fire, an adult would call 911.
EXTRA CREDIT: Time for a chat.
- Tell your kids that the best and safest thing they can do is EXIT the house quickly and calmly. Kids, YOU HAVE ONE JOB, to get to safety.
- Remind your older kids that everything is replaceable—except them! So don’t waste time worrying about grabbing anything, just get out.
- Remind your younger kids that an alarm is a signal to help you know that you’re in danger and that it’s so loud for a reason—to wake you up and to be heard over the television or through headphones.
- Set up a monthly reminder on your calendar to check the alarms. Help little ones get accustomed to the alarm sound and use this monthly check in to remind the family of the plan.
You can get a ton of fantastic tools and resources from Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen program to help you practice your own family home fire drill on HomeFireDrillDay.com; a fire escape plan tool for families, a smoke alarm checklist, home fire drill games and more. On the Make Safe Happen App you can find super helpful tips to keep your family safe, including room-by-room and age-by-age tips. It even includes a 2-minute timer for practicing your home fire drill.
*Based on 2017 NFPA study.