Yesterday, in the very early hours of the morning, a friend of mine lost everything in a house fire.
There was a power surge, and from the time of ignition to the time the house was fully engulfed, was about 13 minutes.
Most of the family of 9 (Grandpa, Mom, Dad, and 6 children) got out safely but 1 little girl of 10 was badly burned. The Mom had to get the 4 youngest ones, including a 3 week old baby, out through a second story window, breaking her foot in the process. Dad was downstairs getting the older girls out and sustained some burns as well.
I’m still in shock over this and can’t stop thinking about them. In minutes, they went from sleeping soundly to lives changed forever.
If you feel so led, you can donate to the family here at the Go Fund Me page that’s been set up for them. If nothing else, please share the link. And please pray for them, especially the little girl who was burned. She’s still intubated, in ICU, and has a long road ahead of her.
This was a great reminder to talk to my kids about fire safety, and I encourage you to do the same.
Know your Exits
Know the exits for each room. Every room should have 2 (door or window that can be exited through), especially bedrooms. Make sure that any basement bedrooms have a window large enough to escape through. Upper levels should have a fire escape ladder, especially 3rd story or higher.
Know where the bedroom windows are from the outside so if someone is still inside, you can point the firefighters to the bedrooms.
Designate a meeting place
Choose a place that’s easy to get to but far enough to be safe from fire, that everyone can get to. For us, it’s the porch of the house across the street. If everyone is exiting the house from different doors and doesn’t know where the others are, they might think people are still in the house. This poses a risk to the fire fighters who might go inside searching for someone who isn’t there. Alternatively, this would also be a way to know that someone is still inside and not assuming they got out elsewhere.
Role Play with the Kids
Ask them “what if” questions to be sure they understand what they’d need to do in different situations.
What if you got outside but noticed the pet was still inside? (Don’t go back in!)
What if there was snow on the ground but your coat and boots were at the other end of the house? (This one caught my 5 year old… now he knows it’s safer to have cold feet for a few minutes than to take time to get boots on)
What if you notice a fire or smoke before mommy or daddy do? (yell fire fire fire as loud as you can and get outside, to the meeting place)
What if you’re playing in a room with the younger siblings and you hear us yelling FIRE!? (Make sure everyone knows they need to get out, and help the younger ones, going to the meeting place.)
And any other situation you can think of that they may not know what to do.
You can also do fire drills with your family. Make sure everyone knows how to get out, where to go, and time yourselves!
Check your smoke alarms and fire extinguisher
I’m guilty of not doing this often enough, but check your smoke alarms. Check the batteries monthly, change the batteries every time change, make sure the alarms aren’t expired. Yes, smoke alarms expire. Carbon monoxide alarms are also very important and are even required by law where I live now. CO is even more dangerous than fire because it’s harder to detect.
Make sure that you have at least one fire extinguisher in the house (usually in the kitchen) that is out of reach of children but easily accessible. Check to make sure it’s still in working condition. There is a gauge on it that will tell you.
Visit a Fire Station
If possible, visit a fire station. Most are happy to give tours. Let the children see what a fire fighter looks like all dressed up because the sight of someone in a big suit like that can be scary.
If you have any other fire safety ideas that I’m forgetting, please share them in the comments!