One great way to practice what you preach as a BC manager is to plan for emergencies, such as a fire, in your own home. The lessons you learn in educating your family about resiliency will likely be similar to how you emphasize them in the workplace.

As you gain insights throughout the process of planning your own exit strategy in case of  a fire, you can apply those learnings in your job as a BC manager. You may even utilize your home emergency plan as an educational workshop for employees. A great way to engage employees and get them interested in resiliency is to make it personal first. Show them how preparedness is important for them and their family’s well-being, and they’ll be more likely to bring the resilience mindset into the workplace. In this post, we’ll outline how you can prevent and plan for a fire emergency at home with your family.

Practice Prevention to Avoid Fires

One of the best ways to avoid a fire overtaking your home is to put preventative measures in place. This includes educating your family on such measures, which can not only save your home but, what’s most important, the lives of your family.

  • Have a working fire extinguisher in your home, preferably in your kitchen. Be sure to point out to everyone where the fire extinguisher is located and how to properly use it.
  • Have smoke detectors in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home, you ensure that your family wakes up no matter their location in your home.
  • A lesser well-known prevention tactic is to close all the doors in your home before going to bed. In the event a fire does start, closed doors help to slow the spread of fire, smoke and heat.
  • Be sure to have two ways out of each room should a fire start. Exit options include windows and doors. However, for rooms that are second story and higher, consider an escape ladder.
  • If you have someone in your home that cannot get out on their own, such as an elderly person, alert your local fire department ahead of time. They often keep a directory of such people, which prompts your local fire department to look for that individual when they arrive on the scene.

Create a Plan

After you’ve implemented all possible preventative measures, now is the time to create a fire emergency plan. By creating an exit plan, you increase the likelihood that your family exits the home safely and uninjured should a fire occur. You can create your plan using the same strategies you would when creating BC plans for your organization.

  • Start your plan by gathering your family for a discussion. You’ll want to walk through the home together and visually inspect each exit option. Is each one accessible and not blocked? Point out to your family that these areas always need to remain clear for everyone’s safety.
  • Now that you know all exit points are accessible, choose a safe meeting place outside your home. This may be a neighbor’s house, a nearby park or even a stop sign. Get together as a family and discuss what the best option is for everyone. Once you reach a safe place outside the home, it’s time to call 911.
  • If you do have an elderly person or small children living in your home, make sure that each person that requires assistance to get out of the home is paired with someone that can help them safely exit the home. Establishing these roles in advance will quicken your response time in the case of an actual incident.
  • Perhaps the most important part of the plan is ensuring that everyone in the home understands that they only have three minutes to get out of the home if a fire occurs. In the past, we used to have much more time for a safe exit, sometimes upwards of 15 minutes. Today, will more synthetic materials in homes, structures burn faster. Everyone should exit the home as quickly as possible and if there’s smoke building up, drop to the ground and crawl out, if necessary.

Exercise Your Plan

Now that you have preventative measures in place and your plan is ready, the next step is to exercise.  Why should you do this?  For the same reason that you exercise your business continuity plans – you need proof that you plan is effective – that your family is truly protected.

  • Spontaneously act as if there is a fire in your home and have everyone practice getting out. You might even lock a window or two to simulate a blockage of that exit. This will require that participants look for another exit, which is a very real scenario that could occur.
  • One way to get children excited about executing your exit plan is to make it a contest. By seeing which child can exit the home the fastest, this game-type element will motivate them to participate. Set a timer and see how much time it takes for everyone to get out and award the fastest with a prize. (These gamification techniques can work just as well in the workplace to make BC involvement more engaging for employees.)
  • You should exercise your plan twice a year until everyone is able to exit the home within three minutes. Additionally, meet after each exercise as a family to discuss how you can reduce the amount of time it takes to exit your home. Your family is only as safe as how well you can execute your plan.

As a BC manager, this may seem all too simple; you focus on planning and exercising every day. Yet preparedness should not stop when you get in your car at the end of a work day. Creating a community of preparedness connects the personal to the professional. By bringing your BC skills home, and your knowledge of personal preparedness into the office, you begin to create a culture and community of resiliency that works to make everyone safe.

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Topics: Business Continuity

Pat Crowe

Written by Pat Crowe

Pat is a Product Manager with Assurance Software responsible for risk management, incident management and situational awareness. He has over 20 years of experience in product management, compliance and business continuity management; where he specializes in helping customers with industry compliance standards and regulations. Pat is a former Volunteer Firefighter and has been involved in many active incidents over his tenure as a firefighter.

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