When you have children, protecting your family from danger becomes one of your top priorities.
From encouraging your child to wear a bike helmet to discussing the importance of wearing a seatbelt, you likely do a lot to keep your child safe. But are you prepared for a fire?
According to the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, home fires are the leading cause of unintentional death for young children, and the highest group of fire-related injuries and death consists of children under the age of five. Furthermore, one of the primary risk factors associated with these injuries involves a lack of a home fire escape plan. Before you panic, keep in mind that a little preparation goes a long way, and if you and your family practice fire safety on a regular basis, you can cut your risks dramatically.
Hopefully you never have to use your fire escape plan, but just in case, you should brush up on your escape routes. Keep these tips in mind as you prepare your home and family for a possible emergency.
Best Methods for Escaping from a Window
During a fire, you must get out of your home in a hurry. A few seconds could mean the difference between mild smoke inhalation and severe burns. While escaping from your front door seems like the easiest option, it might not be the fastest or the safest option depending on your location at the time of a fire.
First Floor and Basement Windows
First floor and basement windows make for an excellent fire escape route if fire blocks the door. Simply open the window and climb out to the ground. Avoid breaking the window whenever possible. This not only slows your escape, but the broken glass also increases your risk of cuts and other injuries. Furthermore, wind entering from a broken window can spread smoke, heat, and gasses into hallways and stairwells. This can hamper evacuation and rescue for other family members in your home.
Second and Third Floor Windows
Second and third floor windows pose a particular problem to parents and homeowners, as the increased height creates further risk of injury. While jumping from a window could enable you to escape the blaze, it could also result in broken bones or even death if not performed safely.
The best method for escaping these windows is to keep fire escape ladders on hand. These portable ladders can easily stash under a bed or in a closet, and they only take a few seconds to deploy. Even young children can safely learn to use a ladder with enough practice.
When using a fire escape ladder in an emergency, follow these steps:
- Close all doors in the room, and use blankets to seal the door.
- Open the window and remove the screen.
- Open attachment hooks and attach the ends to the inside wall.
- Pull release strap to deploy the ladder.
- Hold hooks to provide stability as you exit the window.
- Keep body as close to the ladder as possible to maximize stability.
If you have young children in your home, you should exit first to stabilize the ladder for your children and to catch children if they lose their grip. If you don’t have access to a fire escape ladder:
- Tie together bed sheets as quickly and tightly as possible.
- Push the bed against the wall, next to the window.
- Tie bed sheets to an end of the bed.
- Lower yourself to the ground with the bed sheets.
Keep in mind that jumping from a window should only be a last resort when all other routes are otherwise blocked. If you don’t have time to create a ladder or other safety measure, throw pillows, mattresses, blankets, and similar items out the window first to cushion your fall.
Which Windows Are Best?
You should focus on speed and safety when determining a fire escape plan. Any windows that require multiple steps to open will cost you precious time. Windows that could potentially cause problems during a fire include:
- Slide-and-tilt windows (the glass flips to open into a room)
- Windows with multiple clips and hidden hardware
- Quick-release hardware that make it difficult to keep the window open
In case of a fire, most experts recommend using full vent in-swing awning windows, as they swing in toward the user. This lets you open the window all the way without worrying about hitting a window well if you have to escape the lower levels.Additionally, experts recommend casement windows that open from the side. The hardware is often at the bottom of the window, so children can reach the latches if they have to escape on their own.Horizontal and vertical slider windows are also a good option as they open fully without obstructing escape. And they don’t need a catch or latch to stay in the open position.
Keep Windows in Good Repair
As you prepare your family for a potential fire, don’t forget to prepare your home as well. Warped frames and broken latches can make windows difficult to open, so don’t hesitate to repair or replace windows as needed. Contact RetroTeck Window for new windows or to repair existing windows in North Vancouver, British Columbia (and surrounding areas). With a little practice and a few extra safety precautions, you can keep your family calm and safe.