Most places of work regularly have fire drills. So do schools.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to have an evacuation briefing at home. Seriously. To show the kids the alternate ways of getting out of the house in an emergency.
It strikes me that this is something missing from many homes. You’ve got your regularly-tested smoke alarm, sure, but what happens if there’s a fire at night and the power is out so you can’t see anything? Adults might have the presence of mind to find the window and open it, but would children think of that, would they know what to do, and would they be physically able to do it?
So I showed them how to open the window in their bedroom, how to climb out, and confirmed they knew how to open the side gate to get off the property from there. Made sure they knew how the external doors are locked (not deadlocked of course, not when we’re at home), and together we thought up various other routes out.
They asked questions. Like, was it okay to smash a window to get out? Of course, a life is more important than a window… but be careful, and use a cricket bat or something, not your hand or foot.
I reminded them of the importance of Stop, Drop and Roll if anybody caught on fire. And to rouse the neighbours to call for help.
And what’s the emergency phone number? All together: “Triple zero!”
Of course I don’t want to be alarmist or anything, but half an hour or (relatively fun) thought into this leaves me rather more confident they could find their own way to safety if the worst should ever happen, and that they’d have some ideas if caught in such a situation in some place where they’d never practiced a formal fire drill.