Family Emergency Plan

Posted by: Judit



Disasters and emergencies can affect people in anywhere and at any time of the year without warning. Flood, fire but even small events, such as a power outage, can quickly have disastrous effects for a family that is not prepared. Family emergency planning can be the key to surviving an emergency or to avoid bigger loss. Family preparedness that involves every member of the household is paramount to ensuring that your family is ready for a disaster, whether or not you are in the home. Preparedness keys to success for this type of situation follow:Create a family disaster supply kit. Develop a family preparedness plan. Identify a local and regional meeting place. Practice your family plan.

Let’s start with some facts about fire:

Do you know how many fire accidents happen a year in Switzerland? – 20.000. Do you know how many minutes it can take to burn down a room completely? – 2 minutes! Do you know the phone number you should call in case of fire? – 118

In Switzerland, three out of four fires break out in private homes, usually in winter and at night. Fire causes damage to property, and even if it is replaceable, our personal belongings can be destroyed. The probability of injury and death is also great – especially sleeping people are at risk. Burning in a house happens much less than smoke poisoning which can be also as dangerous.

The good news is that 99 percent of house fires are put out before they turn deadly.


First of all you should prepare an Escape Plan for your family

You should discuss where can you leave the flat/ house (doors and windows)
Think about how can you leave it: stairs, escape ladder, throwing out pillows and blankets and jump – or have an escape ladder if you are higher then 2nd floor
Try to have at least two alternate routes out of the house
Think who and how will you alarm and inform, how you call the fire department
Split the kids among you
Make the family members familiar with the sound of alarm systems
Use a simple referee’s whistle to alert the others
Decide on a safe meeting place
Practice and repeat this escape plan regularly
In most cases, children die because they can’t escape from a fire by themselves. Your child needs to know how to get out of the house on her own because you might not be able to help her. Teaching her what to do if a fire breaks out could save her life. Explain your children the basics of fire, smoke and emergency signals. Use the approach of a game because it can make these risks fun for small children, even though they realise that fire is serious business. And if a real fire happens, they’ll be better able to stay calm and get out safely and quickly.

Most children don’t know what to do when a house catches on fire and make deadly mistakes.

They do not know the sound of the smoke alarm and do not react
They rush into a smoke-filled hallway
They go down a burning stairway
They hide in a wardrobe or under the bed and the firemen do not find them
They fear of the firemen and do not signal if they are in the room
An escape plan can’t be only important at home but in other places for example in hotels – always look for the emergency exits, decide a meeting point.


Avoid and fight a fire

Keeping one or more fire extinguishers at home is inevitable. You can put out a fire in initial stage within a few seconds, but without it the whole house could burn down in minutes.

Place a fire extinguisher in a place where you can easily grab it in case a fire breaks out, between the risky zone and the exit
Read the instructions and familiarize yourself with the fire extinguisher, you should know how to use it and each adult in the family should know it as well.
In an average flat an ABC fire extinguisher is the most practical because it puts out fires caused by burning solids, liquids and gases.
Check the extinguisher periodically and charge it when the manometer needle is no longer in the green zone
Do not place the extinguisher near a heater / stove, and not in a place where it can be frozen.
You have to know how to fight a fire.

Call, or have someone else call the fire department (118 or 112)
what is burning- it can explode or produce highly toxic smoke – let the fire department handle it.
The time to use an extinguisher is at the beginning stages of a fire. If the fire is already spreading quickly, it is best to simply evacuate the building,
Alarm the others in the house and meet at a safe meeting point
If the flames are no more than waist-high, fight it with an extinguisher.
Check for your own safety before starting to extinguish a fire.
Ensure that there is a clear exit for immediate escape
Do you know how to use an extinguisher?

break the seal and pull the safety pin from the handle
focus at the base of the fire or the source
squeeze the handle slowly to discharge the agent
sweep side to side approximately 15cm over the fire
operate it in short periods
always keep your back to an exit
When should not you fight a fire:

You don’t have appropriate equipment
You might inhale toxic smoke
The fire is already spread
structural safety of the building is risky
Your instincts tell you not to
If you would risk your exit

Smoke detector

Every home should be equipped with smoke detectors on every level. Smoke alarm is a device that detects smoke, typically as an indicator of fire.

Ensure that your smoke detectors are tested regularly, and change its batteries twice a year. Change batteries when you change your clocks to summer/winter-time
Encourage children to help test the smoke detectors.
Familiarize them with the sounds of the alarm(s).
Replace your smoke detectors when they become overly dirty or according to manufacturers recommendations.
Fire blanket

This cover shouldn’t be missing for your safety in any household. The fire blanket is especially suitable for single use for extinguishing pan fires or other incipient fires that may be extinguished by smothering. The fire consumes the oxygen under the blanket and can not spread further. Extinguishing oil or grease fires with water frequently leads to an explosive flame-up causing severe burn injuries.

Review fire blanket instructions before you need to use it for fire safety reasons.
The fire blanket can be installed with the metal loop space-savingly and on strategically sensible places (e.g. kitchen) to be usable immediately.
The storage bag has a Velcro strip which allows rapid removal of the fire blanket. The glass fibre cloth is ready for use if you pull down the straps.
Protect your hands by wrapping them in the top edge of the blanket as you put out a fire.
Use the blanket as a shield as you approach the fire.
Place the fire blanket over the fire. Do not throw it because the chances are high that you will miss the fire, but be unable to retriev
Turn off any heat source, such as a stove burner. You will most likely see smoke moving through the blanket. This is the fire blanket.
Leave the blanket in place until it’s cool to the touch (at least 30 minutes)
If someone’s cloth is burning, wrap a fire blanket around him , the blanket will smother the flames without sticking to skin.
Carbon monoxid detector

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas, but, being colorless, odorless, tasteless, and initially non-irritating, it is very difficult for people to detect. Sources of carbon monoxide include cigarette smoke, house fires, heaters, wood-burning stoves, fire places, high-pressure washers.

Symptoms of mild acute poisoning: confusion, headaches, flu-like effects but even in very low concentration it is poisoning and can cause death.

If the house are extremely isolated, the doors and windows close perfectly, there is not enough fresh air
Sometimes there are air conditions, tumble dryers, kitchen hood in the same room where there is the heater. In this case the used air – the smoke turns back to the room.
High percentage of carbon poisoning occur in stormy weather when the smoke flows back to the flat through the chimney
How to avoid co- poisoning

Install an effective ventilation system
Maintain equipment and appliances
Install CO alarms but not in kitchen or close to fuel-burning appliances
If you have or see the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

Open a window – go to fresh air
call for an ambulance
turn off your device
Survival food and stock

We believe in preparedness – it is always good to have some non-perishable food and some hygienic products at home for your security for 5-10 days.

A variety of situations can happen when the food retail system can collapse – natural disaster, financial crisis, electricity shortage (black out).

Keep at home:

water and other Canned liquids (pineapple juice and vegetable juice) – these will provide nutrition and hydration simultaneously
Dehydrated powdered milk, whey and eggs.
hard cheese
Protein bars and drinks
Drink mixes: Coffee, bouillon, tea, cacao
Corn, rice, pasta
Potato flour
Canned fruits
Nuts, seeds, nut-butter,
Salt, sugar
toilet papers and other essential hygienic products
soap, toothpaste etc
some cash if the banking system collapses
First Aid kits and medicines

Almost everyone will need to use a first-aid kit at some time. Take the time to prepare a kit to have available for your home. It may be basic or comprehensive. What you need depends on your medical training and how far you are from professional medical help. Ready-made first aid kits are also available in shops.

The best place to keep your first aid kit is in the kitchen. Most family activities take place here. The bathroom has too much humidity, which shortens the life of items.

When travelling abroad, it is always wise to have an other first aid kit with some survival items, like a penknife or multitool, water purifier a flashlight, waterproof matches or lighter or fire starter, map /compass /GPS/cell phone.

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To help prepare your family, FEMA Region V has provided this guide to serve as a reference for you and your family to make all-hazards preparations for disasters and emergencies that you can read here.

Picture: Copyright: <a href=’′>designer491 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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