No one likes to imagine the worst possible scenario, but it’s important that everyone in your family is aware of what to do in the case of a serious emergency such as a fire or break-in. If your family doesn’t have an exit drill arranged as of right now, there’s no time like the present to set aside a small amount of time this evening to discuss this very important issue with them.
In Case of Emergency
In moments of danger, we often react on emotional impulse. It is important to plan a family exit drill far in advance and practice it regularly so that, if a break-in occurs, muscle memory will take the place of calm, level-headed reasoning in the moment of crisis. In times such as these, it is especially important to know instinctively what to do. You may shy away from broaching this topic with young children, but many elementary schools have already practiced intruder drills and lockdowns in case of a serious emergency.
In Case of a Fire
It’s not hard to imagine escape routes from every room in your house, but second-story exits are arguably the most important. Discuss bedroom escape routes with your children, elderly live-in relatives, or relatives with disabilities that may be more likely to be confused or impaired by the danger. Your children, as well as you and your spouse, should plan to climb safely out of the nearest window. If this is not possible, a secondary option is to stand in clear view of the window, where the firefighters can see you when they arrive.
In Case of a Break-in
During a home break-in, remain calm and do not meet the eye of the intruder or speak to him at all. Some neighborhood intruders simply break in to steal things, and have no malicious intent against you and your family personally. If your intruder wants your expensive items, allow him or her to take them without argument. Material items can be replaced, while human lives cannot. If an intruder intends to hurt you or a member of your family, make sure you’re carrying a cell phone, then follow your previously arranged escape plan to exit the home and dial 911 as quickly and calmly as possible.
Knowing Your Home
Each home is different, with its own specific strengths and weaknesses in regards to possible escape routes. Consider the layout of your home. Perhaps you have a large picture window in the dining room that can be smashed in the case of an emergency, or a door that leads to a balcony on the second story. Take advantage of these various possibilities while planning your family’s exit drill.
Some families may be at greater risk due to very young children, live-in elders, or people with physical, mental, or developmental disabilities. If this is the case in your home, don’t worry. There are ways to ensure everyone’s safety regardless of the situation, if you are well prepared and have practiced your family exit drill.
Image Source: Flickr/CreativeCommons/Ada Be