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Fire Escape Plan

Develop Your Home Fire Escape Plan

Despite your best prevention efforts, a home fire may still occur. At the first sign of smoke or fire, you must act quickly and calmly. Develop an effective home fire escape plan and practice it often to help you react appropriately in a fire emergency. When you create your fire escape plan, be sure to include everyone in your family, as well as your pets.

Plan Two Ways Out of Every Room

If fire or smoke blocks your primary exit, you will need a second way out. If you live in a two-story house, consider whether you will escape through a window, roof or balcony, and if you will need a portable fire escape ladder. Evaluate each escape route for ease of access.

To help ensure a safe escape when you need it most, take the following precautions:

  • Eliminate clutter on stairs and in hallways.
  • Make sure windows are not blocked or painted shut.
  • Be sure window security bars have quick-release mechanisms that everyone can operate.
  • Ensure that locked doors are easy to open from the inside.
  • Keep keys to deadbolts accessible near the door.

It is usually easier to get out of a ground floor room, especially for people who have physical restrictions that limit their ability to escape. If you or a family member has mobility difficulties, consider sleeping in ground floor rooms to get out more easily.

Establish a Meeting Place Outside

Choose one location where everyone will meet after escaping so that you can:

  • Account for everyone in your household.
  • Quickly notify firefighters if someone is missing.

Select a meeting place away from the house, preferably in the front yard near where firefighters will arrive.

In the event of a fire:

  • Do not allow anyone to go back into the house for any reason, even for pets.
  • Notify firefighters if anyone is missing. They are properly equipped to rescue people.

Know Your Emergency Number

Everyone in your home should memorize 911 or the emergency phone number for your town.

Once you have escaped and reported to your meeting place, have one family member call the emergency number from a neighbor's home, or use a cellular phone.

It is too dangerous to stay inside to make the call.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Practicing the home fire escape plan can help you and your family feel more confident if a fire occurs in your home. Follow these guidelines for practicing your plan:

  • Schedule fire drills at least twice a year, and be sure that everyone participates.
  • Practice the fire escape plan at night, too, since most fatal home fires start while people are sleeping.
  • Practice feeling your way out of the house with your eyes closed to simulate escaping through smoke and darkness.
  • Revise your home fire escape plan when a family member has a change in health, or when there is a temporary or permanent change to your household, such as a visiting grandchild.

Put it in Writing

Put the fire escape plan in writing to share with everyone who stays in your home.

  • Draw a floor plan and mark primary and alternate escape routes from each room.
  • Show the meeting location outside your home.
  • Post the floor plan near your phone where babysitters, visitors and overnight guests can see it.

Help Firefighters Find You

Help firefighters locate your home quickly in an emergency. Display your house number in large numerals with contrasting colors that can be easily seen from the road.

Take Care of Children

Fire injuries and deaths among children often occur because they become frightened and try to hide from the blaze. Preparation and education are keys to preventing such tragedies. A prepared child is more likely to escape unharmed.

  • Talk to children about what to expect if a fire occurs.
  • Practice the home fire escape plan with any child who stays at your house.

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