Fire! You wake up to a screaming alarm in the middle of the night. Every second counts and your normal paths are blocked. How will you get out? How will you get your family out?

These are the challenges you face when fire breaks out in your house. There is no time to think. Your reactions carry you through. You will live or die based on snap decisions.

Fire escape plans save lives. Make one now.

Plan Your Escape 
Get your entire household involved in planning what to do during a fire.

1. Draw a floor plan of your house
A floor plan shows the rooms and hallways in your house. It is drawn as if you were floating above the building looking straight down.

You want an accurate picture of each floor in your house. Your plan doesn’t have to be perfect but it must clearly show all of the rooms and how they are connected.

2. Identify two exits from each room 
During a fire, normal exits may be blocked. For example, you may not be able to go directly from the bedroom to a hallway. You might have to leave through a window to get safely out of the house.

Some exits may need to be improved for safety. You may need a chain ladder to turn a second story window into a safe escape route, or you may need to clear clutter from a route that is currently blocked.

Be practical and open to possibilities as you identify exits. Escape room Your normal routes will still be your first choice for getting out. Make sure secondary exists will be clear and safe if needed.

Go over your plan. Make a list of anything you need to purchase and install. Give yourself a deadline to make sure this gets done.

Practice Your Escape 
Now that you have a plan that everyone understand, it is time to practice. Remember: you won’t have time to think during a fire. If it happens at night, you may be groggy. Practicing now ensures smart, quick reactions when you need them.

1. Walk through your plan 
Set aside time to meet with your entire household. Make sure everyone understands the floor plan and escape routes.

Now walk through your plan, room by room. Make sure everyone knows how to escape from each room.

  • Point our potential exits, fire extinguishers, and smoke alarms. Teach everyone how to use safety equipment.
  • Make sure everyone knows what the fire alarm sounds like.
  • Teach children how to operate window locks.
  • Make sure everyone can actually exit a room as planned. Check that people are physically capable of navigating escapes.
  • Talk about when and where fires may occur. Discuss changes or alternatives you want in your escape plan.

2. Run through likely scenarios 
There is no substitute for practice when you are learning a new skill.

What kinds of fires are most likely to occur? Where are people most likely to be when different types of fires flare up? Use the answers to these questions to make practice drills for everyone in your household.

Run through scenarios as if there is a real fire.

  • Have everyone start wherever they would most likely be during the fire.
  • Signal the start of your drill. You can do this by using the test button on one of your smoke alarms to signal the alarm. If you prefer, you can simply blow a whistle or yell, “Fire!”
  • Everyone should immediately start to exit the building. Don’t hesitate, just move!
  • During a fire, you will probably want to crawl low to avoid breathing in smoke and heat. Practice doing this now.
  • Call for help only after you have reached your meeting place. Will you dial 911 from your cell phone? Will you go to a neighbor?
  • End your drill when everyone is out of the house and gathered at your agreed upon meeting place.
  • Some additional things to think about:
  • Take a moment to talk about how everyone did at the end of each drill.
  • Consider using a stopwatch to time your drills. Think about ways to get people out of the building more quickly.
  • During early drills, have everyone use their primary exits, the ones they would normally use.
  • Once people are comfortable using their primary exist, you can vary the drills. For example, try posting a note on some doors saying that they are hot. This will help people remember that you should never open doors that are hot to the touch. It will also push them into testing their secondary exits out of the house.
  • Once out of the building, you should never go back inside. If someone gets “stuck” during a drill, call to them with help. Try to talk them through getting out on their own.

3. Practice Often 
Frequent practice will keep your skills fresh. Consider setting aside time to practice one or two scenarios each month.

Practice is especially important for children who need a definite plan to help them react well during an emergency.

Make practices fun. Have a healthy competition with praise for those who get out most quickly. Reward quick thinking and good fire safety. Handled properly, practice drills will make everyone feel energized and competent to handle emergencies. You may want to continue the positive energy by sharing a pizza or adding another family activity.