Michael Dawson, M.D.
During the winter, families nestle in their homes trying to stay warm, spending time by the fireplace and preparing comfort foods. As the temperature drops, a rise in residential house fires occurs. Several factors contribute to the increase, including the use of personal heating devices, candles and unattended cooking equipment.
Knowing how to prevent household fires, along with what to do when a fire occurs, will be beneficial to your family when every minute matters.
The National Fire Prevention Association suggests your family start with the basics by:
It is also recommended that families conduct a fire safety walkthrough of their home monthly, to eliminate any potential fire hazards such as overloaded electrical circuits and faulty wiring.
Boys Town Pediatrics knows that developing a plan is important for these times when seconds are critical. Making a family fire escape plan can be a great opportunity to remind children about the importance of safety. Designing a fire escape plan can be easy with the following:
Step 1 Start by making a copy or drawing of your house, showing all windows and doors.
Step 2 On the plan, make note of two exits out of every room, along with the quickest outside exit.
Step 3 Pick a meeting spot outside the house where the family will gather after the emergency happens.
Step 4 Go over the basics in fire safety such as staying low to keep out of the smoke, never opening doors that are hot to the touch, and how to find the most immediate and safe route out.
The best way to ensure your plan will work is to hold a fire drill. Inform the family that there will be a fire drill within the next week. Waking your child in the middle of the night may be alarming, but it is advised to plan a drill in both the evening when it is dark as well as during the day.
After the mock drill, tweak your plan as needed. Remember to revisit the family fire escape plan every six months, or after any changes have been made to a child’s room location.
For more information on fire prevention and safety visit the U.S. Fire Administration website at