Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fire Safety Evacuation - Gear Bag

This idea could raise a few eyebrows at the local fire department that for years have told everyone to just get out when the smoke alarms go off.  Well we certainly aren't going to argue with "getting out" when there is a fire. Few people train to handle a fire in their own home but if you are (good for you as well)  then you may have other plans.  Make sure you have an adequate number of fire/smoke alarms and they are tested regularly. 

Given the Winter season and sub-zero temperatures, it is not hard to imagine people suffering from exposure in very short order if they were to simply evacuate their homes at the first sound of a smoke alarm.  Others may panic become confused and start to look for things they think is important to them.  We are suggesting you assemble them ahead of time and know they are there - and practice your fire drill evac using this idea. 

Given that most people do not go to sleep wearing winter thermal wear, jacket and boots  we are suggesting that you assemble an easy to carry bag of clothing and gear.  On your way out the window or before you climb down your emergency ladder - toss the bag.  We tried this and it amounts to about 1.5 seconds. 

You don't need to run out and buy a new bag or any gear....this kit can be comprised of existing supplies and those you could live without on a day to day basis.  This pack here is just one of our Military Gear Bags for demonstration purposes.....and has too many straps and clips that can hang up on something in an evacuation so use something akin to a soft sided duffle/gym bag.  Waterproof or weather resistant material would help.

If you plan on having winter guests you can assemble a bag for them as well ahead of time or suggest they can keep one near their bed in case of fire as a part of your evac plan.   

If this is starting to sound corny to you think about what you would do if there was a real fire and you jumped out the window in your lightweight sleepwear?  No keys, no light, no phone, no shoes.....and very cold.  How far away is your neighbor.....and in what direction?  How long until the fire department gets to your location?

Start with this: 
Easy on Shoes/Boots 
Easy on Socks
Spare Underwear
Easy on Sweatshirt or Heavy Shirt - No Buttons
Wool Hat / Balaclava Face Mask
Winter Mittens with Hand/Body Warmers Stuffed Inside
Loose Fitting Pants / Belt
Light Jacket - Windproof Bright (reflective) Colors (Yellow, Red, Orange)
911 Phone Charged
Mylar Rescue Blankets for entire family
Eye Glasses if Needed (in hardcase)
Keys to Home/Shed/Garage/Vehicle on a big high visability key fob
Lithium Battery Powered Flashlight or Headlamp(s)
Multitool Knife - sheathed
Spare Identification With ICE Cards / Emergency Med Info Forms/ Quarters $$
Plastic Garbage Bags - Large can use to stow gear or as a windbreaker/raingear
You can Choose Optional Gear as long as you Can Carry It and it fits out the window.

Ok,  some spare keys for new cars can cost a lot of money ($500) so you'll have to work that out in your plan somehow.  If you have a detached shed or garage you might be able to store a marked (ICE) bag/Rubbermaid container there if you can get to it easy enough and have a smaller pack with keys, lights and phone with you. 
Discuss this when you form your home evacuation plan.   There are other issues to discuss but this is one suggestion that might make a difference in your particular situation.
Get started....the storms are already here.

Did we mention we got this Maxpedition Bag from http://www.campingsurvival.com/ !


  1. as a fire fighter and an EMT, I see people out in the cold all the time at alarms. Great information for the public.
    George Barrett, Cicero Fire

  2. Finally a place with some common sense ideas that people can use and that don't waste tax payer money on useless fluff brochures or insulting posters of stupid cartoon characters for adults.....how can we take that stuff seriously anyway. At least one firefighter spoke up! Bravo.

  3. For those of you with several extra cell phones laying around please charge the batteries and label it with bright tape or contrasting marker pen (Hey, even an ICE Sticker!) as your "911 Phone Only" because if it still functions it can reach 911 if you have 911 service in your area. Place it in a waterproof and shock resistant container or soft bubble wrap so it will survive a drop from your roof. The old phones are sitting in your drawer now anyways so why not use them!

  4. Another ICE supporter suggested you add a laminated ICE Card or ICE Decal to your bag(s) for easy identification. Good idea actually.
    Having this affixed will reinforce the idea and your practiced drills each time you see it and support rapid recognition in the exigent fire evacuation situation.

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