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Home Fire Escape Planning


Everyone can be taught the basics of home fire escape. Developing and practicing a home fire escape plan is the key to survival should a fire occur in the home. In the event of a fire, time is the biggest enemy and every second counts. In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. Escape plans can help you get out of your home quickly. That is why every home needs to practice E.D.I.T.H. (Exit Drills in the Home).

  • Plan and practice your plan.
  • If your home catches on fire: STAY LOW, GET OUT and STAY OUT!
  • If your clothes catch fire: STOP, DROP, and ROLL until the flames are put out.

Plan your escape and practice it AT LEAST twice a year:
  • Draw a floor plan of your home.
  • Show two ways out of every room -- if fire or smoke blocks the primary exit, you will need another way out (i.e., a window). You can also buy an Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) approved collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows.
  • Practice escaping from every room in the home.
  • Agree on a meeting place where everyone will gather after you have escaped.
  • Designate one person to go to a neighbor's house to call 911.
  • Make sure that windows are not stuck and that screens can be taken out quickly.
  • Provide alternatives for anyone with a disability.

  • A proper escape plan includes: working smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside all sleeping areas; two ways out of each room; unobstructed and easy-to-use exits; a meeting place outside; a posted emergency phone number for the fire department; and practicing the plan at least twice a year with every member of the household.
  • If there are infants or family members with mobility limitations, someone in the household should plan to assist them.
  • Make sure that doors needed for escape can be opened easily and that windows are not nailed or painted shut.
  • To make sure the fire is not on the other side of the door, use the back of your hand to feel a closed door, the doorknob and the crack between the door and door frame. If it feels hot, use your secondary escape route. Even if the door feels cool, open it carefully. If heat and smoke come in, slam the door and make sure that it is securely closed, then use your alternate escape route.
  • React immediately to the sound of a smoke alarm and make getting out your top priority. Do not waste any time trying to save property. Take the safest exit route, but if you must escape through smoke, remember to crawl low under the smoke and keep your mouth covered. Close doors as you escape to slow the spread of the fire.
  • Escape first, then call 911. NEVER go back inside the home for any reason!
  • Teach children not to hide from firefighters. If someone is missing, tell a firefighter. They are equipped and trained to perform rescues safely.