NPM: Make and Practice Your Plan

“Make and Practice Your Plan” is the first weekly theme for this year’s National Preparedness Month.  When it comes to fire safety, crafting and reviewing an escape plan is the most important thing you can do to save the lives of your family members or employees.  Here are a few guidelines to help make your plan the most effective:

When Planning Your Home Escape Plan:
  • Be sure to consider your household and make a plan that is doable for everyone. If you have younger children or pets who are not able to help themselves, be sure to assign each one a responsible “buddy” who will be in charge of getting them to safety.
  • Plan two different escape routes and agree on an easy meeting spot outside of and away from the house. The front porch, for example, is not a good meeting spot as it is too close to the fire.  The mailbox or backyard playset would be better options.  Also make sure both escape plans are easy to understand and implement.  A plan that requires your teenager to escape from his window while carrying his sister is not realistic.
  • Stress the importance of prioritizing during an emergency. As difficult as it may be, family members must understand that nothing is more important than the human lives at risk during a fire.  This includes valuable items, sentimental possessions, and even pets if the situation is dire.  Back up copies of legal documents, photographs, and other such items online, so that they are guaranteed to be safe in an emergency, and so you will not feel tempted to delay escape in order to save them.
When Planning Your Business Escape Plan:
  • Have a diagram of your building with the fire escape routes clearly marked in several locations around your business. Review these escape plans during staff meetings so that, if emergency strikes, your employees know immediately where they can exit quickly.
  • Have your fire safety equipment inspected regularly, including your emergency lighting. By making sure your exits are properly marked and illuminated, you ensure that anyone in your building will be able to find an escape in the event of an emergency.
  • Protect your assets with the proper equipment. Make sure your fire suppression system matches your business needs; this can help you save a lot of money and frustration after the fire has stopped, for example, a suppression system specifically designed for a data control room will put out the fire without ruining your equipment.  Also be sure to keep digital copies of important financial information, and to store important files in fireproof containers so that you and your customers are covered.
  • Making sure you have the right insurance coverage for your business can also be a major help if you are faced with the aftermath of a destructive emergency.

Whether you are planning an escape route for your home or business, remember that the plan is completely useless if it is not practiced regularly.  But, when created and reviewed, an escape plan can truly be a life saving tool during a fire.  Want more information about crafting an escape plan?  Click here for more details on a home escape plan, and here for business safety essentials.

September is National Preparedness Month, and this year we will be observing it with a series of articles on fire safety for your home and business.  Every Friday we will address how to apply Ready.gov’s weekly theme to fire-related emergencies.  We will also post several other articles throughout the month addressing specific fire and life safety concerns.  Drop us a comment on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn if there is a preparedness topic you would like us to cover!