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Developing a family escape plan

Article provided by Premier Martial Arts


Teaching children how to focus, show respect, get and set goals is very important; of equal importance is teaching well-rounded safety skills that will serve and protect their entire lives. The great part is the more you teach life skills the easier it becomes to teach safety skills and vice versa. Today we will focus on mapping out a family escape plan.


First when constructing a family escape plan, evaluate each member of your families ability to safely exit the house in a time efficient manner. A young child, an aging parent or anyone else with difficulties must be taken into account. Decide who is best suited among the family to help assist them to escape. Placing a small postcard sized note with the word ‘emergency’ on the chosen helper door and the family member name (or better yet picture) of who will need assistance will help keep their duty top of mind. In an emergency situation despite the combination adrenalin, lack of sleep and possibly smoke this top of mind awareness may help them quickly and clearly remember who they need to help get out.

Know Where To Go

Each member of the family must know two ways to exit each room in the house; one primary escape route and one alternate. This is if in case of a fire or a home intruder where one route becomes blocked and is unsafe. Having a second escape route could be a lifesaver.


“The great part is the more you teach life skills the easier it becomes to teach safety skills and vice versa.”


Set A Meeting Place

Make sure that all family members know where the pre- designated meeting place they will be once they have exited the house. This meeting place should be a safe distance in case of fire but close enough that all members can get to it quickly. If the meeting place is across the street then take other factors into account such as traffic or construction.

Learn The Hardware

Make sure that all family members know how to open (and lock) all windows and doors. Special window locks can be cumbersome without light so make sure that you can open them both quickly and quietly.

Sight And Sound

Be prepared by keeping a flashlight and whistle within reach of your bed. Use the flashlight to help find the way out or as a tool for self-defense. Use the whistle to rouse other family members and to signal help.

Numbers And Streets

Make sure that all children know to use 9-1-1, request the right service (ambulance, fire or police) memorize their street address and their home phone number. Role-play with them and have them understand the importance of the system and to never abuse it. Having this crucial information written down on the phone or by the phone is important because when an emergency happens, recalling basic information may be difficult.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice your escape plan by practicing home fire drills. The younger your family is, the more frequently you should practice these drills. Give advance notice that over the next week or days you will have a practice drill. Review the basic elements of your plan, where the meeting place is, who will assist those who need extra help and what routes they should take. Then at a good time, run the drill and time your family. Post the result and practice until you are satisfied.

Teaching kids these skills helps make them more confident and responsible. By being prepared, having a plan and then practicing the plan keeps a family sharp, aware and safe, which will help everyone to sleep a little sounder.


Barry Van Over is the owner and president of Premier Martial Arts International, of which there are currently over 80 location nationwide. Mr. Van Over has two locations in the West Knoxville area and been empowering families lives through the martial arts in the Knoxville community for over 20 years. Mr. Van Over and his local studios can be reached at

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