Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as two minutes to escape safely once the alarm sounds. Your ability to get out depends on advance warning from smoke alarms, and advance planning — a home fire escape plan that everyone in your family is familiar with and has practiced.
Facts and figures
In 2011, there were an estimated 370,000 reported home structure fires and 2,520 associated civilian deaths in the United States.
Only one-third of Americans have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan to ensure they could escape quickly and safely.
One-third of American households who made an estimate thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life-threatening. The time available is often less. And only 8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!
Source: Harris Interactive Survey, Fall 2004 (PDF, 759 KB).
The National Fire Protection Association has a guide to escape planning that you may want to use to create your own home fire escape plan.
Tips for how create a Fire Escape Plan and how to do it.
1. Draw a map of your home showing all doors and windows, and discuss the plan with all family members.
2. Know at least 2 exits from every room in the house, and be sure that all doors and windows open easily.
3. Have an outdoor meeting place for all family members to report to if there is ever a fire. It should be a safe distance from the house. It could be a tree, a pole, a streetlight or a mailbox.
4. Practice your home fire drill at night and during the day, with everyone in your home, twice per year.
5. Practice using different ways out of the house.
6. Teach the children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
7. Close doors behind you as you leave.
What if a Fire Alarm goes off at home?
1. Get out and stay out. Never go back for people or pets. You need to make sure you’re safe and can call the fire department. They can get their quickly to help anyone else.
2. If you have to escape through smoke, get low, and go underneath the smoke. Try not to breathe in too much of it.
3. Call the fire department from outside of your home.