The last time I remember doing fire prevention is at school. The fire alarm rings, we all file outside, head to the designated area for each class, perform a headcount, and wait to return inside. We would practice our route and how to find fire exits/alternate routes, a few times a year, to be prepared for an emergency. I have never really thought much about having a fire plan at the house. Not because I don’t think fires can happen, but because I was in the mindset of ‘it won’t happen to us.’ Now that my kids are learning to cook, and experimenting more in the kitchen, let’s just say a toaster is a fire hazard. So, I thought it would be best if my family had a plan that everyone learns.

First, we explained to our younger children what and why we have smoke alarms in the house. We showed them where they are located, and told them if the light is blinking, the batteries must be changed (some houses have their alarms hard-wire and won’t have batteries). My hubby explained how alarm works; that, when there is a fire, there will be smoke, and that’s what will set the alarm off.

We planned our escape route next. Starting with ways to get out of the house – what door is our first escape exit, and what alternatives we might have in certain scenarios. In case there is smoke outside of the doors, we showed them how to unlock their windows. We made a designated meeting spot, across the street from our house, at the street light. The whole plan is very basic so that the kids can understand it. We drew pictures of the plan, and it’s hanging on the fridge – this is a great reminder for them.

This year’s theme for Fire Prevention Week is ‘every second might count, so plan a way out.’ With that, creating our escape route made sense. I want my kids to have an understanding of how to handle fires and just how dangerous they are. I’ve also booked us a tour of the local fire department; this is something fun and full of information. Win-win for everyone.

Fires happen much more often than I thought and probably more than you think too. I found some statistics the National Fire Protection Association that are pretty scary.  Here are some, and if you want full details, click the link.

  • Half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Only one in five home fires occur during these hours.
  • One-quarter of home fire deaths are by fires that start in the bedroom. Another quarter resulted from fires in the living room, family room or den.
  • Three out of five home fire deaths happen from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • In 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 365,500 home structure fires. These fires caused 2,560 deaths, 11,075 civilian injuries, and $7 billion in direct damage.
  • On average, seven people die in U.S. home fires per day.
  • Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fire injuries, followed by heating equipment.
  • Smoking materials are the leading cause of home fire deaths.
  • Most fatal fires kill one or two people.
  • During 2010–2014, roughly, one of every 338 households reported a home fire per year.

These stats have made me realize just how dangerous house fires are, and that they can happen to anyone, anywhere. We can be proactive and help prevent disaster by knowing the facts and having a plan. Make this Fire Prevention Week the one where you make your plan!