Does Your Family Have a Fire Safety Plan? Here’s How to Make One


“Let’s practice our fire drill!” My husband and I told our kids. Our son asked why, and darted for his headphones. My oldest daughter started to panic and ask me a series of questions.

“Why? Is there going to be a fire? What’s happening? Why do we need to practice at home?”

She took deep breaths as she awaited our response, which was simple.

“Just so we are prepared.”

According to Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen initiative, home fires are the biggest disaster threat facing American families today, yet only approximately half of parents surveyed said their children know what to do in the event of a home fire.

In fact, the National Fire Protection Association tells us that 7 in 10 structure fires actually occur in the home, and more than 8 in 10 fire-related deaths result from home fires.

We don’t want to become a statistic. Our kids practice fire drills at school, why shouldn’t we at home?

Years ago, we created a fire escape plan, and a little game of where we’d run to get out of the house depending on where the fire is. We busted that out to play again and talked about what to do if our smoke alarms went off.

“I’d grab my stuffed animals!” My daughter said. Boy, was this a great kickoff point for another safety talk.

“No, what should you grab if there’s a fire?” I asked a sorta-trick question.

“Water?” She said hesitantly.


She thought about it for a moment and I told her it would just be one thing… Herself. Maybe her brother too if he’s still asleep next to her.

We practiced opening up the windows (something we’d never taught them before). So they would know how to do so in case of an emergency. We showed them it would be easy to pop out the window screen on their first floor windows. And run to our meet up location.

We practiced that too.

“Do you put on your shoes if there’s a fire and you’re running out of the house?”

“YES!” They shouted.

“No!” We corrected them.

“But what if we step on a nail while we’re running?” My smart-aleck daughter questioned.

“Which is worse, stepping on a nail or getting caught in a fire?”

You may think some of these answers are common sense but it was evident during our little drill that we need to continue to have these conversations on a regular basis so our kids remember what to do in case of a house fire. (Like, not stop, drop and roll).

Practice your own Home Fire Drill with your family on October 13, at!

Here’s what you need to remember as you prepare:

Step 1: Know where to go

• Pick a safety spot that’s near your home and a safe distance away. Our spot is directly down the sidewalk from the fire hydrant in front of our home.

• Explain to your kids that when the smoke alarm beeps, they need to get out of the house quickly and meet at that safety spot. We practiced leaving the house to meet at the safety spot as fast as we could.

Step 2: Check your smoke alarms

 Test your smoke alarms with your kids so they know the sound. Check them out twice a year (daylight savings is a great time to remember).

 Make sure there’s a smoke alarm on every level of your home, and one in each bedroom.

Step 3: Do the drill

• Have kids head to their bedrooms and wait for the drill to begin.

• If you have kids under 6 years old, assign adults to help anyone who’ll need it. I’m in charge of grabbing Lee Lee on nights I sleep in a room with her. And my husband is in charge of the other two (usually sleeping on the floor in our room).

• Put one adult in charge of sounding the smoke alarm and running the drill.

 Next, sound the smoke alarm, start the timer on the Make Safe Happen app and have everyone quickly get out of the house and to their safety spot.

• Once everyone gets to the safety spot, stop the timer. Try to make it there in under two minutes. (It took us 45 seconds, but we were all amped up).

• In a real fire, get to the safety spot, then call 911 and keep everyone close until firefighters arrive.

You can also learn more about Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen program and visit for all sorts of tips to help keep children as safe as possible.

Do your kids need a little refresher or my kids the only ones who were a little off base on what to do in case of a fire?

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  1. I’m really happy to read this article. Protecting your family is top priority. With the holiday season coming, there’s no better time to make sure you are fire ready. Check your smoke detector user manuals maintenance section and learn how to properly test your smoke detector. If it’s not working, replace it immediately.

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