Why you shouldn't go back in a burning building for your child

Hilary Anderson, MA, American Red Cross, shares advice for parents on why it is far more dangerous to go back into a burning building for loved ones and the importance of creating an emergency plan with your family
Why You Shouldn't Go Back In A Burning Building For Your Children
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Why you shouldn't go back in a burning building for your child

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If a fire happens in your home, you get out and stay out. Unfortunately, you don't go back into a burning buidling--not for property, not for pets, not for other people. This really puts an emphasis back on "practice, practice, practice"--have a plan in place. Let your family know the plan; make sure that you know what the evacuation route is and your meeting places are. What we want is for everyone to react as quickly and as safely as possible in an emergency--just like with earthquakes, where we don't want you to go running to your child right away--we want you to "drop, cover, and hold on," and then go to them. You expect that they're "drop, cover, and holding on" as well so that they're keeping themselves safe. You teach your children/your family to react the same way that you would react. Now obviously, if you're in the same room with them, please evacuate with them--grab them. If you have a direct line of sight, and you're on your way out of that building, grab them if they're on the way. What we want is for them to be going out that same exit or out their other evacuation route as well. Imagine the time it could take, if what you train yourself to do is go through an evacuation route, and your child goes through another one, and instead of getting outside the home and meeting them, you're running around searching for them. Expedited time--you could be stuck inside the building; you could now be the person in danger, whereas your child may have reacted perfectly and been outside waiting for you. Practice the plan; make it as normal as you possibly can. Statistically speaking, people don't panic in emergencies, but they don't think as clearly as they would normally. You want to train with muscle memory--especially with kids. I work with kids a lot--they love doing the "drop, cover, and hold on"; they love "crawl low in smoke." Make this the most comfortable thing you possibly can for them, because there is nothing comfortable about an emergency. The more normal it is--the more prepared they are--the less scared they'll be, and the more likely they'll react appropriately. Call 911, get emergency help there right away--but don't go back into a burning building; you could be the one that ends up being rescued later.

Hilary Anderson, MA, American Red Cross, shares advice for parents on why it is far more dangerous to go back into a burning building for loved ones and the importance of creating an emergency plan with your family

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Hilary Anderson, MA

American Red Cross

Hilary Anderson has been with the American Red Cross for the past three and a half years as a volunteer and staff member in positions with communications, disaster relief, development and volunteer services. As the Preparedness and Resiliency Manager, her primary responsibility is the delivery of educational programming across the Los Angeles region to get individuals, schools, businesses and organizations prepared for a disaster. As a dog owner, she also hopes to get your pets ready too! Hilary has a master’s degree in International Policy Studies with an emphasis in humanitarian assistance as well as a bachelor’s degree in International Relations, Journalism and German. She has worked for non-profits abroad in Israel, Bolivia and Germany focusing on grant writing, youth and education and also feeding and sheltering. 

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