Learning Center

Do You Have a Home Fire Evacuation Plan?

Firefighter at truck

Learn how to escape safely in the event of a fire.

In 2011, more than 3,000 people died and another 15,600 were injured in structure fires in the United States. With a little planning, many of these deaths and injuries could have been avoided.

In the event of a fire in your home, does your family have a fire evacuation plan? Having a plan that involves the whole family can greatly reduce your odds of being killed or injured. Make sure everyone knows what to do and where to go.

Here are some points to consider when creating a fire escape plan for your home:

  • Make sure you identify two ways out of every room.
  • Establish a meeting place where everyone should go in an evacuation. It might be a tree, the end of the driveway or a lamp post — whatever works best for you.
  • If you have security bars on your windows, make sure you have quick-release mechanisms on the inside. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to properly operate and open them.
  • Remember to feel any closed door to see if it is hot. If it is, use your secondary escape route.
  • Once out, stay out. Escape first, then notify the fire department.
  • Never go back into a burning building. If someone is missing, tell the firefighters. They are equipped to perform rescues safely.
  • Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
  • Install smoke alarms outside of each bedroom and on every level of your home. Make sure the alarm will wake everyone in the house. If not, make plans for someone to wake the sound sleeper.
  • If there are infants or people with mobility issues, make plans to help them.
  • Test smoke alarms every month. (Tip: Change your smoke alarm batteries when you change your clocks for daylight savings time.)
  • Don't waste time saving property! Property can be replaced – lives can't.
  • If you live in a multi-story building that prohibits an easy escape, practice "sealing yourself in for safety” as part of your home fire escape plan. Close all doors between you and the fire. Use duct tape or towels to seal door cracks, and cover air vents to keep smoke from coming in. If possible, open your windows at the top and bottom to allow fresh air in. Call the fire department to report your exact location. Wave a flashlight or light-colored cloth in the window to let the fire department know where you’re located.

With your plan in place, practice throughout the year.
American Family also has tips for:

Careful planning can mean the difference between life and death.