Conduct a Home Inspection

  • Check each bedroom for the best window or door for an emergency escape.  If necessary, rearrange bedrooms to provide easier escape for children, older adults or people with a disability.
  • Ensure everyone has a second way out—consider escape ladders.
  • Test windows to ensure they open easily and are large and low enough.  Be sure that everyone in your home, including children, can reach, unlock, and open doors and windows that are included in your plan.  If your windows have security bars, check to see if they are equipped with inside quick-release devices.
  • Check security devices to make sure they can be opened easily – in a fire, you might not be able to find a key.
  • Check your smoke alarm.  If you don’t have one, get one.

Make a Floor Plan

  • Draw an outline of your home or apartment.  Make a drawing for each floor where people sleep.  Dimensions do not need to be exact. Add each bedroom and label it.
  • Show important details: stairs, hallways, roofs that could be used as a fire escape.
  • Choose a family meeting place and show it on the plan.
  • Use blue or black arrows to show the normal way out, such as the stairs or hall.  Use different colored arrows to show emergency exits in case fire blocks your normal route.
  • Make sure the plan includes:
    • Working smoke alarms;
    • Two exits from each room;
    • An outside meeting place;
    • Emergency phone number for your local fire department; and
    • Alternatives for any family member needing extra assistance.

Practice Your Plan

  • Practice with all members of your household at least twice a year.  Review and revise your plan whenever there are changes in your household, e.g., sleeping arrangements, new baby, etc.
  • The more you practice, the faster you will be able to act in a fire emergency.
  • When practicing your escape plan, explain that the firefighter’s job is to rescue anyone trapped inside, so don’t hide.

Fire Drill Example

  • Begin with everyone in his or her bed.
  • Sound the alarm: Press the smoke alarm test button and yell FIRE or use some other signal.
  • Everyone should roll out of bed, stay low, and feel the door for heat.
  • Exit the house:
    • First time: Use the normal exit.  Brace your shoulder against the door and open it slowly, ready to shut it quickly if there is heat or smoke.
    • Second time: Pretend doors are hot.  Everyone must use the second way out.
  • Gather at meeting place and check that everyone is out.
  • Appoint someone to simulate calling the fire department.
  • Get together to talk about the drill.  Make changes to the plan if necessary and rehearse them.

Additional Safety Tips

  • Always sleep with bedroom doors closed to keep heat and smoke out for a short time – the few extra minutes you may need to escape.
  • Find a way for everyone to sound a family fire alarm – blow a whistle, pound on walls, yell, etc.