Recently I attended a meeting at a major oil company’s boardroom. The Safety Officer for the company opened the meeting with a short briefing on evacuation procedures should an emergency occur.

A number of things ran through my mind as he was preparing us for orderly escape from a possible disaster. One thought was that this was the first time a meeting had ever started like this. Next was something like, “Is this really necessary?” While these thoughts ran through my mind, I also recalled a movie about a fire in a high rise building like we were meeting in at the time. Just because there had never been an emergency response procedure at a meeting before didn’t mean that it wasn’t time for one now. This indicated another way in which this company exmbited its firm commitment to safety. I fully endorse it!

All of these thoughts of course occur in a matter of split seconds. But why isn’t this a regular procedure for all occupants of all buildings. Think about this and consider instituting an orderly emergency evacuation procedure in your building.

Speaking of orderly evacuation of buildings, do you have an escape plan for your home? I realize that no one expects to have to escape from a fire in YOUR home, but we read about home fires regularly. Think it over, then get your family together and work out an emergency evacuation procedure from your home. Consider where a fire may start, use several locations, not just the furnace. Kitchen, bedrooms, basement workshop, attached garage, etc. Escapes may not be by the front or back door. Consider patio door, windows, through the attached garage.

If you are escaping a fire and there is smoke, crawling under the smoke is the answer. Make sure you account for the whole family while you are exiting. If young children are missing, check under beds and in closets before you leave the house.

Possibly more important than having an evacuation plan and then having a trial fire drill, is to recognize what may constitute a hazard in your home that might create a fire. Here is a short check list to get you thinking and looking around:

  1. Fireplace chimneys that are clogged up from lots of winter fires.
  2. Open containers of cleaners or solvents or paints.
  3. Rags used for cleaning with solvents left in a pile.
  4. Accumulations of papers, boxes and other flammables.
  5. Half finished repair jobs of small engines and their gas tanks left lying around.
  6. Propane bottles from trailer or barbecue left inside.

While we are thinking of escapes from our homes, how much thought should you give to your summer home, camper or trailer? Again, particularly with the confined quarters of a camper or trailer, concern yourself more with eliminating the hazards involved with propane fueled heaters, stoves and even the fridge. Have pilot lights, burners and vents checked and cleaned regularly. If you smell propane, get it checked, don’t take chances.

It is even prudent to take the same care and planning when you check into a strange motel while travelling. Does it have a small individual unit type of heater? If so it is likely propane or natural gas fueled. Take the same precautions here as you would at home. Make sure there are no gas odours. Start the heater before you go to sleep to make sure it operates properly. Leave a window open a bit for fresh air. Plan your escape and go through it with the children; you’re in a strange place and need to do a dry run so that there won’t be a panic when waking up in new surroundings.

Make sure that you have fire extinguishers that have been recently inspected in your home, cottage, garage, basement, camper and trailer. Make sure everyone knows where they are and how to use them.

I sincerely hope that none of you ever has to use an emergency escape procedure, but the short time invested in planning one could save lives, maybe yours!

Remember, til next time, at work or leisure, LIVE SAFELY!


Last month’s article had a couple of typographical errors. To clear that up:

  1. The surface cord used to combat forest fires, to BLOW a path clear of vegetable matter (not flow a path).
  2. The 3" diameter by TEN lb. plastic couplabel cartridge (not 100 lb.).



Share This Column