Tag Archives: escape ladder

Fire Tortilla

Irony. Ain’t she grand? I’ve been trying to get this post done for a week and on the night I resolve to actually get it done…I burn myself. The irony comes in when you find out the topic of the post. Fire protection. HA! Guess I should have thought about that when I reached into the oven to retrieve my sweet and sour chicken using only my kid’s decorative pot holder for safety. (Which by the way cost me an arm and a leg but as you just heard is only marginally useful. Thank God I find it impressively beautiful!) Don’t worry, my finger will survive to type another post, just in case you were worried. I am however, a big baby about pain. I swore after childbirth, I’d never stand by idle and tolerate such ridiculousness…hence the cold beverage aiding with my healing.

Back to fire! If you have ever heard me give my preparedness presentation, you’ve sat victim to my joke about keeping my in-laws in the basement when they stay over. I always hint that I do this because there is no egress from my basement as it has no exit door or sizable windows to speak of. (If you truly know me by the way, you know that I’m actually only kidding. One, they don’t sleep here, they live ten miles away. Two, I love them with all my heart.) The point is that my basement has no viable exit and from time to time my most precious babies actually get permission to play video games in the basement. I’ve been driving myself crazy to come up with a way to mitigate the issue. If there is a fire and my little men are in the basement, how are they going to get out without running through fire?

Found it! Now this is not a cure-all for sure. Certainly the viability of this mitigation strategy is dependent upon the extent of the fire. However, I’m going to purchase a fire blanket. Now these are traditionally used to smother fires, and in particular are recommended for use to protect from/fight kitchen fires. However, an alternative use for fire blankets is to wrap oneself or one’s loved ones in the blanket to essentially run through the fire and escape. Picture yourself or your little ones wrapped up like a little protective fire tortilla!


Traditionally, these blankets have been made of wool and you can certainly still get wool versions. At this point though, you can also purchase fiberglass versions. Some are even treated with chemicals to increase their ability to retard flames. They vary in range from $45.00 (this would be a smaller size, only appropriate for a small child.) to as much as $200.00. I think this could possibly be one of your more expensive purchases; however, if this is to be used as I would be using mine, then I deem it a worthy price. If you Google fire blanket, you will find many to choose from.

If you have babies or small children that you might have to carry out through a fire, because of a similar basement situation or because you can’t navigate an escape ladder (see previous post) while carrying the infant/child, a fire blanket may not only be the difference between life and death but also between severe burns and minor injuries for the little one. This could also so help if you have any elder care responsibilities and they also cannot navigate an escape ladder.

I’ve moved this to the top of our purchasing priority list for emergency preparedness supplies. I hope that you will consider the role a fire blanket might play in your preparedness as well. Be sure to purchase one that is the appropriate size for it’s intended user. (Too small and it won’t be as sufficient as it ought to be. Too large and a small child could trip over it and prolong their exposure to the flames.) Also, these ARE NOT intended to be used to run into a fire to rescue folks. Leave that to the professionals. And most importantly, no matter what, keep it in a place that it is easily accessible. No matter which version you buy, if you or your loved ones can’t get to it quickly, it’s saved no one.

Night, Night…Sleep Tight

We’ve all heard the news stories before…”Fire kills entire family”, “Home completely destroyed”. Without rounding in your favor, without sugar-coating the truth, when was the last time you tested your smoke detectors? When was the last time you and your family practiced responding to your smoke detectors? Have you ever practiced? Do you have anything to practice…meaning do you have an emergency escape plan for your home?

 You know what the right answers to these questions are, and if you can’t provide them, you are just one of many. We are getting back to basics tonight. Emergency preparedness is more than go-kits and fancy camping supplies. It is also all of the basic things we learned from those visiting firemen in elementary school. The hard fact is, that was decades ago and frankly you were taught then that your parents were going to do it for you. Now many of us are parents ourselves. We have a responsibility our loved ones.

You have got to have an emergency escape plan and you have to PRACTICE it! First of all, take a walk through your home and do an assessment. Consider what you are at risk for. Consider the structure and design of your home. Do you have gas heat or appliances? How many stories does your home have? Do you have a basement? If so, is there egress from your basement? Which rooms have windows? Are they accessible or do you have furniture blocking them? What is below the windows outside? What about your door locks? Do you have the deadbolts that lock from the inside with a key rather than a knob? Where do you keep that key? Is it accessible in a dark, hot, smoke-filled, adrenaline inducing, life-threatening moment? The answers to these questions will affect the plan that you craft.

Consider all of your possible evacuation routes (doors, windows, and garage exits). Now consider the hazards associated with each. Make plans to mitigate those problems that you can. Decide which routes are viable as of right now and which ones need work. Outline what needs to be done to make them viable? What is the cost associated? Will you choose to prepare those routes or just write them off and have less escape route options.

SMOKE DETECTORS! Get them. For every floor of your home. Test them frequently. Change the batteries religiously. Teach children about them. Tell them what they are, how they are used, and let them hear it. They need to know what they sound like, and that sound needs to scare the bejesus out of them. Practice with them. This means have your family go to sleep, you stay up and after they have been asleep several hours, set the alarms off. Who wakes up? Everyone? Some of them? There have been studies that some (too many) children will actually sleep through smoke detectors. The following is a link to just one of the many articles on the topic.(http://healthland.time.com/2011/03/25/children-sleep-through-fire-alarms-study-shows/#disqus_thread) You won’t know if your kids fall into this category until you do a true test. If you do find that they don’t wake up quickly enough or at all, consider other options. They make smoke detectors that allow parents to pre-record their voice instead of beeping.  Imagine that instead of a random beep, your child hears your voice loudly telling them, “There is a fire. Get up. There is a fire William. Wake up. Get out of the house.” Another option is to have a secondary smoke detector in their room that utilizes bright light instead of sound. These types of smoke detectors were originally designed for the deaf community; however, they may be a realistic option for your family if they work better than the traditional alarm. 

Can you evacuate from the upper floors? Are you prepared to jump out of windows in a fire? If you are on the second story you may be fine or only sprain an ankle, but would your three-year old be fine? If you have children in an upstairs bedroom, you need to consider purchasing an escape ladder for their window. These can be found on the interweb and cost anywhere between $35.00-$80.00 depending on whether or not you need the 2 story or 3 story version. I can’t stress enough that these need to be practiced regularly if you expect children to use them, especially in such a high stress situation. Also, note that most of the manufactures of these escape ladders mark the products as “one time use only”. I find this to be useless because children are going to need to practice these skills. What if you are already incapacitated and their only hope is to use the ladder all by themselves? I did find one company, First Alert, that does not include the “one time only”  warning anywhere on or in their packaging. So buy theirs, practice, and then store the thing where 1) the kids can identify it and access it and 2) with strict understanding of the seriousness involved. These ladders can become tangled and/or bent if misused. If that happens, they will not be of use in the “heat” of the moment.

Just one note about basements. If you do not have egress out of your basement, please do not use them for sleeping. A basement with no egress is a death trap during a fire.

Lastly, let say that you make it out of the house. Now where are you going? If your house is on fire and you happen to have gas in the home, you might not want to wait for the fire department right in the front yard. Have pre-arranged relocation sites designated for your loved ones. Practice having smaller children going to those locations and becoming familiar with them. For instance, my kids know to meet us at the front of our community club house which is about a block away. If we can’t meet there, they know to go to the front of the community which is about four blocks away.

I know this was long, so I’ll stop. But this is basic stuff that far, far too often gets overlooked. Be sure you’ve considered the simple things at home. The things we sort of all know and somehow so many still ignore. This topic may not be as exciting as picking out your 12 degree below zero sleeping bag, but realize that they taught you these things in school as a little guy or gal for a reason. It’s that real, it’s that scary, and it can happen to you.

Still hoping to drum up questions or concerns. Leave me some feedback. Take care.