Fires are caused by heating equipment, appliances, electrical wiring, cooking, and in other unexpected ways. It's important to plan and practice a fire escape route with your family. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to proceed.
Plan an Escape
- Gather all family members and housemates. Sketch a floor plan of all rooms with doors, windows, and hallways. Include each floor of the home.
- Draw the escape plan with arrows showing two ways, if possible, to get out of each room. Sleeping areas are most important, since most fires happen at night. Plan to use stairs only.
- Plan where everyone will meet after leaving the building.
- Assign someone to call the fire department after leaving the burning building. Many locations use 9-1-1 for the emergency number. When you travel, take a moment to find out the local emergency number and keep it on hand.
Practice the Escape
These are guidelines for escaping from a fire:
- If there is smoke, crawl low to escape. As smoke rises, breathable air is often close to the floor.
- Make sure children can open windows, go down a ladder, or lower themselves to the ground. Practice with them. Always lower children to the ground first before you go out.
- Get out quickly and never return to a burning building.
- If you can't get out, stay in the rooms and stuff door cracks and vents with towels, rags, or clothing. If there is a phone, call the fire department, even if rescuers are already outside, and tell the dispatcher your exact location.
It is best to try to prevent burns and fires in the first place with these guidelines:
- Install smoke detectors on every floor of your home and maintain them. Many homes have smoke detectors that do not work because of old or missing batteries. A handy way to remember the batteries is to change them twice a year when you reset your clocks for daylight savings time.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and know how to use it.
- Turn pots on the store so that their handles do not stick out.
- Lift the far edge of lids on hot pans first to prevent burns from steam.
- Keep flammables and matches out of the reach of children.
- Always take special care when smoking.
- Don't leave children alone while you cook.
- Keep all electrical cords clear of counter edges where toddlers may pull on them and cause appliances to fall.
- Double check before leaving the kitchen to make sure that burners are turned off.
- Keep curtains and clothing away from fireplaces and stoves.