Do You Have An Emergency Escape Plan?

Every second counts when a fire breaks out in your home, so plan ahead and try to avoid a tragedy.

An emergency fire exit could be a life-saver

South Africans know that it’s vitally important to have security gates on every door and burglar bars on every window in their homes to keep intruders out.  But every now and then we read about people being trapped in their homes by their security when a fire breaks out.  There have been two such tragedies in the news recently, one a Grahamstown student that died after a fire in his flat and another in Jo’burg.

Fire stats show it can happen to anyone, so don’t discount the need for an emergency fire exit

Anyone thinking it’s very unlikely this will happen to them should read the statistics on fires in SA.  Just under half the fires occurred in formal dwellings as opposed to informal dwellings, and in 2011 caused just under R600 000 000 worth of damage.  And the number of people that died just doesn’t bear thinking about.

We were asked by the Grocott’s Mail in Grahamstown to send them safety tips after the Grahamstown fire, because the student was trapped in his flat by a security gate.  It wasn’t a Trellidor product, but the safety rules remain the same no matter what type of security you have.

Here is the Trellidor emergency fire escape safety tips list that we sent them:

  1. Don’t fit fixed burglar bars to every window.  Install burglar proofing that can open on at least one window, preferably more, to use as an escape route in an emergency.
  2. Select a safe room that you can use in the event of a crisis.  The bathroom is a good option as there is running water, a toilet to use while you’re trapped, and it’s the place where people usually keep vital medicines such as asthma pumps. You can also wet a towel and wrap it around you in the case of fire.  Fit burglar proofing that opens to the window in this room so that you can get out if necessary.
  3. Store your emergency exit window keys where you can find them in a hurry.  A hook next to the window is a good option.  Don’t leave them in the lock because house robbers will use them if they break the window.
  4. If you are in a high rise block or have a double storey home, fit an emergency exit security gate to a veranda door in addition to those on your windows so that you have an alternative emergency fire escape route.  Again, keep spare keys where you can find them easily.  If you have a security gate on your front door, keep spare keys on a hook next to the door.
  5. Fit fire alarms in strategic areas around the home as well as panic buttons to press if you are woken by a fire or house robbers.  Even if you don’t have armed response, your neighbours will be alerted.
  6. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers on your cell phone and printed out and stuck up on the wall next to the landline.
  7. Check systems such as automated doors, panic buttons, sensor beams and smoke alarms regularly to make sure that they are working because electricity fails and batteries need replacing.

A few more points to remember regarding a fire emergency exit

  • It’s essential to have a fire emergency exit escape plan and to practice it with your family.
  • Take into account the needs of anyone in your home that is aged, frail or disabled.
  • If there is a fire in your home, get everyone out and stay out.  Never go back inside.
  • In a high rise building, never use the lift as they are not fire proof.  Rather use the stairs.

 Your local Trellidor franchise is always available to talk through emergency issues and offer free advice on how to create emergency fire exits in their homes, so make use of their knowledge and choose the right Trellidor products for a quick get-away.

Contributor: Lindy Barry

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