Most fires occur in the middle of the night, when people are sleeping. In the event of a fire, you will not have time to consider your escape options. It is important to practice your home fire escape plan regularly so you will be prepared for an emergency.

If a fire breaks out in your home, you may have only a few minutes to get out safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Plan ahead so that everyone in your household knows what to do and where to go in the event of a fire.

Safety Tips

  1. Make a home fire escape plan. Draw a map or blueprint of your home, showing all doors and windows. Discuss the plan with everyone in your household.
  2. Know at least 2 ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows leading outside can be easily opened.
  3. Choose an outside meeting place (such as a tree or lamp post) that is a safe distance from the home. Make sure everyone in the household knows to meet there in case of a fire.
  4. Practice your home fire drill both at night and during the day, with everyone in your household. Do this twice a year.
  5. Practice using different ways out.
  6. Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can't help them.
  7. Close doors behind you as you leave. This may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.
If the alarm sounds...
  • Get out and stay out
  • Touch-test the doors before you open them
    • If the door is cool, open it slowly and leave the building
    • If there is smoke, crawl low where the air is cleaner
    • If the door is warm, use your second escape route
  • Call 911 from outside your home
  • Never go back inside for people or pets

If you can not escape:

  • Call 911 and tell them your exact location
  • Close the door; seal the openings around the door and vents with wet bedding or towels
  • Wait by a window and make your presence known to arriving firefighters
  • If it is safe to open the window and there is no smoke, open it and yell for help
Plan your escape around your abilities
  • Keep a phone near your bed in case you are trapped by smoke or fire
  • Place your wheelchair, cane, walker or scooter nearby for easy access
  • Prepare an emergency kit with necessary items such as warm clothing, medications, list of emergency contacts, glasses, hearing aids, dentures, insurance information, emergency cash/credit card, flashlight and copies of identification
  • Keep your coat and shoes nearby
Live in an apartment? Know your escape plan
  • Meet with your landlord or building manager to learn about the fire safety features and plans in your building
  • Know the locations of all exit stairs from your floor
  • Know where the muster point is
Know how to open security bars

Many people install security bars on their doors and windows to feel safe. But did you know that some security bars can trap you in a fire? They can also keep firefighters from getting in to rescue you.

  • Choose security bars that have quick-release devices and make sure everyone in the home can open them

Download the Stay Safe Sheet: Home Fire Escape Plan to learn more.