Having an emergency escape plan for your home can make the difference in life or death should an unthinkable event, such as a fire, occur. The plan should consist of three basic parts: knowing when to get out, how to get out and accounting for everyone afterwards.
Knowing When to Get Out
The most important thing that your home should have to help you be prepared for a fire is a working smoke detector in each of the right places, starting with the sleeping areas. If your home consists of more than one floor, detectors should be on every level. The reason the sleeping areas are most important is because the detectors may be the only thing that can wake the occupants should a fire begin during the night.
Carbon monoxide detectors are important as well. This is especially true if you home uses some sort of combustion for heating. Examples include oil and gas furnaces. When either of these alarms sounds, it is time to get out.
Getting Out Safely
The primary concern once a fire is detected is the lives of everyone inside. Everything else is secondary. Lives should never be put in jeopardy in order to retrieve personal belongings. Anything that delays getting out is simply not worth the risk.
Thought should be given to how you and your family will escape if the primary exit is blocked. There should always be two escape routes available. This can be a bit more challenging on houses with two or more stories, especially if there is only one set of stairs. In these cases, having a fire escape ladder can be the answer. Companies like ResQLadder can provide units that are small enough to fit under a bed. They can then be hung from a window, allowing occupants to climb down the ladder to safety.
Accounting for Everyone
There should be a predetermined location for all family members to gather after getting out, making it easy to account for everyone. This would save valuable time that might otherwise be wasted trying to hunt for someone who is missing. The last thing you want to do is go back into a burning building to search for someone who actually made it out safely but did not report to the gathering area.
An emergency such as a fire is something you will hopefully never have to face. If it does occur, however, there will be no time for planning when it happens. The life-saving steps to take should be thought out beforehand.