Plan Your Escape
Does your family have a plan in case of a house fire? If you said, "no," then it's time to get prepared! Making a plan is easy, and it can save your life. So, get your family together and let's get started…
Follow these 5 steps to plan your escape:
- Draw a floor plan, or map, of your home. Remember to include every room and identify windows and doors. If your home has more than one level, draw a map of each floor. Or, print your own fire escape plan grid (pdf).
- On your map, draw arrows to label at least TWO exits from every room. The first way out would be a door; a second way out could be a window or another door. Remember, you need at least two exits from each room in case your first exit is blocked by heavy smoke or flames.
- Next, note your smoke alarms. There should be at least one smoke alarm on each floor of your home, preferably outside of sleeping areas. Smoke alarms are the key to a successful fire escape plan because they warn you of a fire when the fire's still small, giving you more time to escape.
- On your map, identify a place where your entire family can meet once they've escaped; this is called a "family meeting place." Meeting places should be located outside, a safe distance from your home. Here are some examples (choose only one meeting place): a mailbox, a tree, or a telephone pole. Be sure your meeting place isn't too far away from your home because firefighters will want to make contact with you once they are on-scene.
- Do you know the emergency number you dial when you need help? 9-1-1 of course! 911 is easy to remember, and it will summon the fire department, ambulance, or police department. During a real fire, you would call 911 once you were safely at your family meeting place.
Put Your Plan Into Practice!
What good is a plan if you don't know whether it works or not? Twice each year, review your escape plan with everyone in your household, and go through the actions of your plan, here's how:
- Start the drill with each family member in their bedroom(s). Close all the bedroom doors as if you are sleeping. Sleeping with your bedroom doors closed will help slow the spread of smoke and flames during a fire.
- Next, designate one person to press the 'test' button on one of your smoke alarms to alert your family of a "fire."
- Now, everyone (in their respective rooms) should crawl on the floor to their first exit (try the door first). Crawling low is important because toxic smoke will rise to the ceiling during a fire; fresher air is near the floor.
- Then, feel the door with the back of your hand. During a real fire, if the door is warm to the touch, don't open it; instead, find your second exit out.
If you'd like to practice escaping out of a window, do so. Adults should help children perform this maneuver safely. If you own fire escape ladders, practice climbing down them.
- Finally, go to your family meeting place. Be sure everyone goes to the same spot. During a real fire, now would be the time to call 911 from a cordless or cellular phone. Remember, if you call 911 from a cell phone, you must be prepared to give your exact address, as the enhanced 911 system is not yet available on cell phones.
IMPORTANT! NEVER go back inside a burning building for anything. If someone from your household did not make it to the meeting place, or you have a pet inside, notify the firefighters when they arrive. Firefighters have the safety gear, tools and training to rescue anyone who may be trapped.
You did it!
With a little more practice, your family will become expert performers of your home fire escape plan. Keep it up!