Fire can grow and spread very fast. In a typical home fire, you may have as little
as two minutes to escape once the smoke alarm sounds. In 2003, fire killed nearly
4,000 people in the United States and injured someone every 29 minutes. Children
ages five and under are twice as likely to die in a fire as the rest of the population.
Home fire escape planning and practice can make a critical difference for your
entire family. By developing and practicing a home fire escape plan, your family
will know exactly what to do in a fire so everyone can escape quickly and safely.
Canadian Statistics: Between 1997 and 1998, 29 children ages 14 and
under died from fire and burn-related injuries and an additional 1,059 were hospitalized.
Develop a Home Fire Escape Plan!
1. Because the majority of fatal fires
happen at night, it is essential to have working alarms throughout your home
awaken or alert you in case of fire. Some studies have shown that some children
may not awaken to the sound of the smoke alarm. Know what your child will do
before a fire occurs.
Smoke alarms need to be installed on each level of the home, including
the basement, and outside each separate sleeping area. If you sleep with bedroom
doors closed, have a qualified electrician install interconnected smoke alarms
in each room so that when one sounds, they all
sound. New homes are required to have a smoke alarm in every sleeping room
alarms must be interconnected.
Test the alarms every
month, following the manufacturer's instructions,
once a year or when the alarm "chirps," warning that the battery is low.
Draw a floor plan of your home. You'll need
two ways out of every room. One way out would be the door, and the second way
out may be a window. Consider purchasing a home fire escape ladder for bedrooms
located on second and third floors - review the manufacturer's instructions
carefully to be able to use a safety ladder for an emergency escape from a window.
Practice setting up the ladder from a first floor window to make sure you can
do it correctly and quickly.
3. Choose an outside meeting place with
your family. Make sure it's a safe distance from your home and mark it on the
escape plan. Practice having all members of your household report immediately
to your outside meeting place during fire drills.
4. Everyone should memorize the local
fire department's emergency phone number, which should be contacted from a neighbor's
phone, or by using a nearby portable or cell phone you bring with you as you exit
5. After you make your plan, practice
it! Fire escape plans should be practiced at least twice a year. Pick a date
with your family to practice -- make sure that everyone is involved - from kids
to grandparents. If there are infants or family members with mobility limitations,
make sure that someone is assigned to assist them. Be fully prepared for a real
fire: when a smoke alarm sounds, get out immediately. And once you're out,
If you live in an apartment building, make sure that you're familiar with the
building's evacuation plan. In case of a fire, use the stairs, never the elevator.
In some cases, the safest action when a fire alarm sounds may be to stay inside
your apartment and protect yourself from smoke until the fire department arrives.
Seal all doors and vents with duct tape or towels to prevent smoke from entering
the room. Open a window at the top and bottom so fresh air can enter. Be ready
to close the window immediately if it draws smoke into the room. Call the fire
department and let them know that you are still inside the building. Wave a flashlight
or light colored cloth at the window to let the fire department know where you
The Blanket Crawl
Smoke and heat rise, so during a fire there's cleaner, cooler air near the
floor. Teach your children to always try their second exit if they encounter
when escaping from a fire. But, if they need to go through smoke to get outside,
teach them to get low and go under the smoke.
a blanket is smoke and have children practice "get low and go under smoke" to
with the Miller Family for a step-by-step guide to home fire escape planning
and practice. Also, check out NFPA's Sparky the
Fire Dog® Web site for more fire safety information and activities for
Following is basic cooking, heating, and electrical advice to help you and your
family avoid these highly preventable home fires:
- Keep cooking areas clean and uncluttered.
- Always keep a close eye on cooking food. And never leave cooking food unattended
on the stove top.
children and pets away from cooking areas: declare a three-foot "safe zone" around
the stove. Mark the area with masking tape to remind younger children.
- Turn pot handles in so they can't be bumped and children can't grab them.
- Space heaters should be at least three feet (one meter) away from walls and
draperies, furniture, or anything that can burn.
- Portable space heaters should be turned off every time you leave the room
or go to bed.
- Don't overload receptacle outlets.
- Receptacle outlets should have plastic safety covers in homes with small children.
Data Sources: Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI),
NFPA, Safe Kids Canada.