Mod­ern houses mean less time to get out in a fire

South Shore Breaker - - Games - CON­TRIB­UTED ed­i­tor@southshore­

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.

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