Most home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Households with non-working smoke alarms now outnumber those with no smoke alarms. When smoke alarms fail, it is most often because of missing, disconnected or dead batteries. Test smoke alarms once  month and replace the batteries when you switch your clocks for Daylight Savings Time.

Most people believe they will have significant time before a fire in their home would become life-threatening. In actuality, the time available for safe escape is often just a few minutes. It’s critical for household to establish and regularly practice a fire escape plan so that everyone remembers what to do in case of an emergency.


Make a Plan

  • Draw a floor plan for each floor of your home, including windows and doors. For each room, find all the ways out, and label them on your plan.
  • Designate who will assist children out of the home to safety. Have a back-up plan in case the primary person is overcome by smoke, or is not home. 
  • Have escape routes clear at all times. If you live in a 2 story house have escape ladders available and make sure everyone knows where they are and how to use them.
  • Decide on a safe meeting place for your family. Make sure it is a safe distance away from the home; this could be a corner on your block or a neighbor’s house.

Steps to Preparation

  • Make sure everyone knows what to do and where to go in case of a fire. 
  • Test your smoke alarms once a month, and make sure everyone in the household can recognize the sound. 
  • Teach every member of the household to get low and crawl on the ground, where the air is less smoky. 
  • Teach every member of the household how to react if the catch on fire. STOP, DROP, and ROLL.
  • Make sure everyone knows how to use the back of his hand to check doors for heat before opening. Teach them to use a different way out if the door is hot to the touch. 
  • If your house requires the use of an escape ladder, show everyone where you keep it, and how to use it.
  • Children can become scared and confused during emergencies, so teach them to never hide from firefighters. 
  • Make sure everyone knows NEVER go back inside a burning building. Once they are out, stay out!
  • Talk about what happens in a fire openly and answer any questions.

Do a Home Fire Drill

  • Practice your fire escape plan twice a year. Fires can start anywhere in the home and at any time, so run through the plan at different times of the day or night, and practice different ways out. 
  • Use a stopwatch to time how fast everyone can get out and to the specified meeting place. The goal should be under 2 minutes. 
  • Practice feeling the door and doorknob with the back of your hand for heat. 
  • Explain that if they do catch fire, they need to stop, drop and roll.