I know many of you have been busy getting to know your Host Family and the local area. Your cultural childcare experience may just be starting, and you might be feeling overwhelmed. There are names to remember, new things to learn, new roads to explore, so many things. These are important, but I would like you to consider something even more important. Plan and practice a household fire drill with a full escape. You are just getting to know your new home, but you may be surprised to find out your host family has probably never planned and practiced a fire drill, and in the case of a fire, their own home could seem like a maze. Go Au Pair wants your cultural exchange experience to be safe and positive for you and your Host Family!
It is our responsibility to watch the kids and keep them from unsafe activities. In the US, it is the law for homes to have smoke detectors. The batteries should be changed at least once per year, or whenever they start to beep at intervals. Many homes have hard-wired detectors with battery back-ups; these batteries should be changed yearly too, even if they’ve never been used. At least half of American families have never had a fire drill and practiced it. When fires happen, people panic, make mistakes, and sometimes die. This can be prevented with planned fire drills with escape and meeting plans.
Fall is a great time of year to make a fire drill and escape plan and then to actually practice it with the family. Do this during the day, while it is nice out and everyone is present, awake and alert. Discuss what to do in case of fire. If kids are in their rooms, show them how to feel their door for heat. If hot, do not open the window. This means kids should have an alternate route out of their room. Window ladders can be found online at various lengths.
Researchers say that getting out of the house safely in two minutes or less should be your goal. Use a timer during your drills to see if you can improve with practice. The idea of practice is just that – practice for a real fire. In the case of a real fire, your family will be more prepared if you have a plan everyone knows and has had a chance to run through a few times. Don’t forget to make a meeting place outside and just away from your home. Adults should be responsible to escort small children and babies from their rooms. Never go back for any animals or precious household contents. If possible, sleep with your cell phone very close so you could grab it in the case of emergency.
Naturally, great care should be used in making the escape plan based on the ages of the children. Once you have practiced and discussed as a family, conduct another drill at night to test your plan and make corrections. For more information about how to practice a family fire drill, contact your local fire department. Be safe and enjoy the holiday responsibly! For more information about a cultural childcare experience for your family, contact me, Joan Lowell, your Providence area representative.