Operation Exit Drills In the Home (EDITH)
Operation EDITH is a national campaign for fire safety to teach children and adults life saving skills to exit their homes in case of a fire or emergency. The importance of exit drills is commonly overlooked and sounds second nature because we actually do it on a daily basis. This same situation then changes drastically when you are faced with a very stressful situation and your comfortable surroundings suddenly begin to change.
Why the Program Is Needed
Tragically, children age 5 and under are twice as likely to die in house fires as adults and older children. The majority of the children die because they instinctively try to hide from smoke and flames under beds or in closets. As parents or caregivers, you need to reinforce the importance of fire safety and participate as an example in their education. Operation EDITH could save your child’s life.
The Operation EDITH message is clear: fires are deadly, but they don’t have to be. By practicing a home exit drill with your household, you can greatly improve the chances that every member of your household will escape safely.
The main components of the exit drill are household planning and participation. This is a group exercise and everyone needs to be involved. Start by installing smoke detectors on every level of the house. Smoke detectors should be placed in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines, which can be found on the smoke detector page of our website.
Next, prepare a home exit plan with your household. A floor plan may be useful and can be posted in children’s rooms; there should be two exits out from every room and the windows can be considered exits. You may need to purchase escape ladders to safely exit from a second story window. These escape ladders can be purchased at the local hardware or home improvement stores, but you must practice using them with your children. Ensure your family’s outside meeting place is easy to get to with out crossing streets and is in a safe place. Be certain to emphasize that no one returns inside for anything once outside.
Practice Makes Perfect
The exit drill should be practiced at least twice a year with the entire household by sounding a smoke detector. These practice exercises should not be announced to your children, truly test them. Your household should be able to safely exit the home and get to the meeting place within a reasonable time. These practice drills will help children remember what to do when they really need to.