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Home fire drill

Most places of work regularly have fire drills. So do schools.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to have an evacuation briefing at home. Seriously. To show the kids the alternate ways of getting out of the house in an emergency.

It strikes me that this is something missing from many homes. You’ve got your regularly-tested smoke alarm, sure, but what happens if there’s a fire at night and the power is out so you can’t see anything? Adults might have the presence of mind to find the window and open it, but would children think of that, would they know what to do, and would they be physically able to do it?

So I showed them how to open the window in their bedroom, how to climb out, and confirmed they knew how to open the side gate to get off the property from there. Made sure they knew how the external doors are locked (not deadlocked of course, not when we’re at home), and together we thought up various other routes out.

They asked questions. Like, was it okay to smash a window to get out? Of course, a life is more important than a window… but be careful, and use a cricket bat or something, not your hand or foot.

I reminded them of the importance of Stop, Drop and Roll if anybody caught on fire. And to rouse the neighbours to call for help.

And what’s the emergency phone number? All together: “Triple zero!”

Of course I don’t want to be alarmist or anything, but half an hour or (relatively fun) thought into this leaves me rather more confident they could find their own way to safety if the worst should ever happen, and that they’d have some ideas if caught in such a situation in some place where they’d never practiced a formal fire drill.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

4 replies on “Home fire drill”

Of course I think this a great thing and I commend you for having the presence of mind to teach your kids these emergency scenarios.

…but I can’t help thinking of Ben Stiller’s fire drills with his kids in The Royal Tennenbaums, I hope you went a little easier on them than he did.

And I hope you don’t have matching tracksuits. ;o)

It’s funny you should mention this because we had the monthly fire alarm test at work today. I havn’t worked there long enough to experience an actual fire drill yet though. Reminds how at uni someone always seemed to set off the alarm at the most inconvenient time (studying for an exam or during the last minute rush on an assignment).

Did you set a muster point so you know where to find each other after the evacuation?

> And what’s the emergency phone number? All together: ‘Triple zero!”

I’ve often wondered: what would happen if you dialled 911 in Australia???

We had a house fire last year, and had it not been for our fire extuingisher and our neighbour’s, the whole house would have been gutted instead of just one room.

When we moved back in, we gave my daughter fire drills, and she can get from the top of her bunk bed to out of the house in 15 seconds in the dark. She knows where the fire extuingisher is (but knows her priority is to get herself out, not to fight fires), knows where the door and security gate keys are kept, and knows to scream her head off outside to alert neighbours.

It does provide a little peace of mind.

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