Modern houses mean less time to get out in a fire
Thirty years ago, Canadian families were told that they needed to plan a 17-minute exit strategy to get out of a burning house safely. Today, Fire Prevention Canada reports that families have about three minutes to get out of their houses before toxic gases reach fatal levels.
What’s changed? Our houses: today’s pre-fab homes are composed mainly of synthetic materials, such as siding, flooring and furniture. These are affordable and convenient, but they also burn faster and “dirtier” than their natural counterparts. That means families have less time to get out before flames block their way and toxic smoke overcomes them.
This year, during Fire Prevention Week — October 7 to 13 — take some time to perfect a threeminute drill in your home. Begin by drawing up a floor plan of the house and developing an exit plan with all members of the family, including toddlers and seniors. Visit each room of the house together, so the plan is clear to all. Point out the windows and doors in each room, and mention trees or other objects outside a window that might help a person get out fast. Some people won’t wake up to the sound of a smoke alarm, so make sure that everyone knows how to open their bedroom windows and climb out of them.
Make sure that every room has two exit routes and that every member of the family is aware of them. Agree on a meeting place outside, a safe distance away from the house. In an emergency, this will help you know who might still be inside the house. Post the evacuation plan, review it regularly and hold a three-minute fire drill once or twice a year to keep everybody familiar with it.
Families can work together to fine-tune their fire evacuation plan.