Fires can start at any time without notice, and they can destroy a home or office in minutes. Once a fire starts, it is most important to get everyone out of the building so no one is hurt or killed. Preparation is key in fire evacuation, and a specific evacuation procedure should be in place in advance so everyone knows what to do if an emergency arises.
It is important not only to know the quickest ways out of the house in the event of a fire but also to make sure everyone in the home can access those routes. If there is an emergency escape route on the second floor through a window, everyone in the home should know how to open the window to get out, as well as how to get from the roof to the ground. These routes should be especially drilled if there are children in the home so that they understand what they should do in the event of an emergency.
Manoeuvring Through the Building
If you have to move through a burning building on the way to the exit, you should stay as close to the floor as possible, since both heat and smoke rise. Test all doorknobs with the back of your hand before opening a door to test for heat. If the knob is hot to the touch, do not open the door because the heat on the other side of the door can be very hazardous. If you are trapped in the building, close as many doors between you and the fire as you can and shove cloth under the door to block smoke. If you catch fire yourself, drop to the ground and roll to put the fire out as quickly as possible.
Establish a Meeting Place
Fires can happen suddenly enough that everyone in the building needs to find his own way out. It is important to have a planned meeting place a safe distance away from the building in the event of a fire so that everyone knows where to go, no one gets lost, and an inventory can be taken to ensure everyone got out safely. If someone is missing, firefighters can be quickly notified so they know whom to look for as they go through the building. Businesses should put in place procedures to help employees or visitors who may need assistance because of physical disabilities or language barriers. Designate personnel to be in charge of emergency response and establish a clear chain of command. Families at home or employees at work should conduct regular practice drills to minimise confusion and panic when an actual fire emergency occurs.
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