In the event of a fire, remember - time is the biggest enemy and every second counts! Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly. In less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for a house to fill with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames. If a fire occurred in your home, would you and your family know what to do? Please follow these guidelines to make you, your family or business safer:
Fire Escape Planning
Draw a Floor Plan of Your Home
Sit down with your family and draw a floor plan of you entire house, including doors, windows, stairs, halls, and balconies. Whenever possible, show two exits from every room. You may need to include an emergency escape ladder for second story windows.
Practice Your Escape Plan
Practice your family’s escape plan at least twice a year, making sure that everyone is involved. After a daytime practice drill is held, it’s a good idea to hold a night or lights-out drill as well. Catching children off guard, however, will not increase the value of the drill. Telling them there will be a drill before they go to bed can be as effective as a surprise drill. If anyone in your household does not readily waken to the sound of the smoke alarm, or if there are infants or family members with disabilities, make sure that someone is assigned to assist them in a fire drill and in the event of an emergency.
Make your Escape Realistic
No matter how often or how well you practice, things will be different during an actual fire. Help prepare your family by designing a number of different scenarios. Pretend that a room is filled with smoke or an exit is blocked by fire then practice alternative escape routes.
Agree On a Meeting Place
Designate a place outside your home where the members of your household will gather after escaping a fire. This will allow you to count heads and inform the fire department if anyone is missing or trapped inside the house.
Once a fire starts, it spreads rapidly. Normal exits, halls and stairways become filled with intense heat, poisonous gases and blinding smoke. Because smoke and heat both rise, cleaner air will be found near the floor. If you encounter smoke when using your primary exit, use an alternative escape route. If you must exit through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees, keeping your head 12-24 inches above the floor.
Test Doors Before Opening Them
If you must enter or exit a room through a closed door, test the door with the back of your hand before opening it. If it’s warm to the touch, use another escape route. If it’s cool, open it with caution. Put your shoulder against the door and open it slowly. Be prepared to slam it shut if there is smoke or flames on the other side.
If You’re Trapped
If smoke, heat or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with the door closed. Stuff the cracks around the door to keep smoke out. Wait at a window and signal for help with a flashlight or by waving a light-colored cloth. If there’s a phone in the room, call 911 and report your exact location.