Family Time Calendar: Family Fire Drills

Every family should have a fire escape plan for their home and practice periodic fire drills. In honor of National Fire Prevention Week, here are some ways to turn this very important activity into a physically fun time.

What you'll need:

  • Smoke detectors, at least one on each floor of your home (check those batteries!)
  • Blanket or sheet
  • Stopwatch or watch with a second hand
  • Paper, pencil and markers to design a fire escape plan

What you'll do:

First, sketch out a fire escape plan for every room in your home. Every room should have two exits, either a door or a window that preferably leads to a balcony or roof. If not, a fire escape ladder should be kept in that room. If you live in an apartment, be sure to mark out the location of stairs -- never use the elevator!

The family must also agree upon a family meeting place outside the home -- a neighbor's porch, a telephone pole, perhaps a tree in a neighbor's yard.

To practice an actual fire drill, everyone should start in a different room. An adult presses the smoke detector button until the alarm sounds, then starts a stopwatch. Each family member must leave the house immediately and gather at the family meeting spot.

Next, practice the fire drill but pretend that the house is filled with smoke, which means that everyone must crawl out on their hands and knees. See how much longer it takes to escape this way. To practice crawling through smoke, have two adults hold a blanket or sheet about two feet above the floor. Kids can take turns crawling under the blanket to avoid the "smoke line."

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