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Create an Emergency Escape Plan

Why Do This?

In an emergency, every second counts. Nobody wants to think about the worst case scenario, but being aware of potential emergencies and preparing in advance for them could save the lives of you and your family. Take the time to educate your household on emergency preparedness so that everyone is informed should the worst occur.

Time: 30 minutes

What You'll Need

  • map of your house
  • emergency supply kit
  • stopwatch
  • fire escape ladder

How To:

  1. 1

    Create a map of your home. Draw the layout of your house (if you have easy-to-read blueprints of your home, that will work too). Label every exit, including doors, windows and staircases. Also mark the location of your fire extinguishers and your main shut off valves for gas and electricity.

  2. 2

    Build an emergency supply kit. Gather the things your household will need in the event of an emergency that lasts for up to 72 hours. Water, food, a first aid kit and a flashlight are among the essentials suggested in FEMA’s downloadable Family Supply List. If you live in a multilevel home, it’s a good idea to purchase a fire escape ladder for each member of your family that has an upstairs bedroom. These ladders can be anywhere from $35-$150 depending on their material and how many stories are in your home.

  3. 3

    Write down your emergency plan. Download and print a family emergency plan like this one provided by FEMA so that everyone in your home knows who to call and where to meet in case of an emergency. It’s a good idea to have at least one emergency contact that lives in a different city, in case of disasters like a hurricane. Keep a copy of this plan in your supply kit and check it twice a year to see if it needs any updating.

  4. 4

    Have a family meeting. If you have children, explain the map of your house and emergency plan to them. Review precautionary measures like finding two ways to get out of each room of your house. Remember, if the primary exit is blocked by fire or smoke, you’ll need a second way out – usually a window. Also, teach your kids about warning systems and signals for natural and accidental disasters that are likely to occur in your area.

  5. 5

    Practice a safety drill. This is important so that you and your family know how to safely exit your house. If you live in a multilevel home, teach your kids how to exit through a window by using a fire safety ladder. Designate a spot that’s at least a block (or fifty yards) away from your home where you can meet in the event of an evacuation. Use a stopwatch to time how long the evacuation drill takes. Remember, it only takes a few minutes for a fire to spread through your entire house, so it’s important to move as quickly as possible while remaining safe. Practice your exit plan at least twice a year.

  6. 6

    Check your smoke detectors. If you haven’t done so recently, now is a great time to test your smoke detectors and replace them if necessary.

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