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Evacuation Drills for Children

Evacuation Drills…So Easy A Child Could Do It

Legislation requires that Evacuation Drills must be carried out in the workplace but, in the home it is up to you the parents to take the initiative.  Evacuation drills can help in saving lives but to be really effective they must be practised frequently and everybody must be familiar with the drill.

Involving the children could be a positive step in overcoming complacency and making Evacuation Drills a regular event in family life.  By turning the drill into a game for all the family, children will learn what to do in the event of a fire and will want to repeat the exercise again.

To interest them in the game that could save their lives:

  • Appoint a “Fire Officer” to alert other family members and rotate monthly,
  • Choose a day when the whole family will be at home
  • Play “Evacuation Drill” every month
  • Assess each Evacuation Drill and keep a chart to record improvements
  • Compliment family members whose reaction times are good

While it is important to make this fun you should always impress on children the seriousness of what they are doing and why.

An Evacuation Drill

At regular unannounced intervals activate the smoke alarm, everyone should then carry out their pre-assigned tasks.

  • Get young children and the elderly out first
  • Close doors to minimise damage
  • Check that everyone has arrived at the pre-arranged meeting point
  • Simulate a call to the fire brigade

Three Golden Rules

1. Prevent fires before they happen – check for fire hazards in your home
2. Install smoke alarms.
3. Ensure every member of the family knows what to do in the event of a fire

Knowing What to Do

A simple, easy to follow Evacuation Drill should be central to every family’s fire safety activities.  In the event of a fire each member of the family must know how to get out of the house and what to do once he/she is outside.  Sit down with all the family and make step-by-step plans for an evacuation now.  Planning now may save lives later.

Getting out and Staying Out

The main route out of most houses is down the stairs and out the front or back door.

  • Keep these areas clutter free at all times.
  • Test doors for heat before opening by feeling as high as you can.  If cool, brace your shoulder against it and open carefully, close immediately if smoke rushes in.  If the door is warm it is best not to open it – leave by alternative route.
  • Everyone should meet at a pre-arranged spot e.g. the front gate or street corner
  • Never go back into a burning building to look for someone or to retrieve belongings.
  • Phone the fire brigade.

An upstairs window should only be considered for escape as a last resort.  If you are trapped in an upstairs room:

  • Do not panic,
  • Stuff any cracks around the door with clothes,
  • Signal from the window for help,
  • If you are caught in a smoke filled room, get down on your hands and knees there may be a layer of cleaner air at floor level.

Phoning the Fire Brigade

Whoever has been given the responsibility of calling the Fire Brigade should:

  • Know the exact location of the nearest phone e.g. the neighbour’s house
  • The precise address of the house on fire and any directions necessary
  • Use the 999 number

Install a Smoke Alarm

A smoke alarm is the most effective way of alerting the family in the event of a fire.  As the smoke comes in contact with the unit it lets out a high pitched sound.  These units are very sensitive and, if well-maintained, will be activated at the first sign of smoke.

For battery operated smoke alarms:

  • Only smoke alarms manufactured to recognised standards should be used,
  • Follow manufacturers instructions regarding siting, fitting and testing.
  • Two properly located alarms will suit most homes
  • Fit recommended batteries and test regularly
  • Replace low running batteries immediately.

Consideration should be given to the installation of mains operated smoke alarms with battery backup.  These eliminate the need for battery replacement.

If you need assistance with your fire Evacuation Drill or have any questions call your local authority Fire Prevention Officer.

This information should not be regarded as an interpretation of the law on the subject.