We've always been really careful to make sure that we have working smoke alarms. The children all know what to do if there was a fire. We've talked about how to get out safely, where to meet, who to call. They've learnt the same at school. Our kids are firewise; they know to get down, get low, get out.
Except, they don't. If you'd have asked me a week or so ago, then I would have said that it wasn't a problem. I was wrong. Fortunately, we didn't find out the hard way, but we had a bit of a wake up call all the same.
Just the other day, the kids were all in their rooms. The youngest having a nap, the others chilling out, reading books and relaxing. I was in the kitchen cooking lunch and I set the smoke alarms off. Now this isn't a regular occurrence in our house, but it has happened before. Even so, not one of the children came out to see if there was a problem. Not one of them left the house, just in case. They assumed it was a false alarm and did nothing.
The problem is of course, that it's human nature to assume that all is well. That the worst won't actually happen and that everything will be ok. If there was a real emergency, then of course we would get the kids out, shout them to leave their rooms, make sure that they were safe. But that's not really the point. An emergency is just that, anything could happen meaning that we weren't able to do that. We teach the kids what to do in an emergency so that they will actually do it.
You can teach your children what to do, but until it actually happens, there's no way of knowing if they really will do it. We talked to them, explained that if they hear the alarm they must always act as though it's a real emergency, just in case it is. Even so, I'm less confident than I was. Some day soon I'll be testing them though, setting off the alarm and seeing what happens, making sure that this time they really do get out.
How would your children react? Would they really act as though it were real? Or just assume that it was a false alarm? It's worth finding out, so that you don't have to learn the hard way.