LEARN two ways out of every room. In a fire, you may have only minutes to escape safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Knowing how to use that time wisely takes planning and practice.
Develop an escape plan with all members of your family. A home escape plan includes:
- two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window;
- a path from each exit to the outside; and
- an outside meeting place a safe distance in front of your home where everyone will meet.
Practice your plan with everyone in your home twice a year.
Home escape planning & practice are more important than ever
People tend to think the risk of having a home fire is low. They also think home is the place they’re safest from fire when it’s actually the place they’re at greatest risk. In fact, home fires can and do happen quite often: U.S. fire departments responded to a home fire every 90 seconds in 2016. Also, the majority of U.S. fire deaths (approximately 80%) occur in homes.
The good news is that the number of home fires has been steadily declining over the past few decades. This means people are getting better at preventing fires from happening. Unfortunately, the likelihood of dying in a home fire today has actually increased. NFPA’s most recent data shows that the home fire death risk was 10% higher in 2106 than in 1980. This means there’s still a lot of work to do in educating people how to safely escape a home fire.
Today’s homes burn faster than ever
This is the result of several factors:
- Newer homes are predominantly built with unprotected lightweight wood construction, which fails faster when it’s exposed to high temperatures, and weakens and collapses faster than homes built with dimensional lumber.
- Newer homes tend to be designed with lots of open spaces and high ceilings, creating an ideal environment for fire to grow and spread quickly.
- The vast majority of modern home furnishings includes synthetic materials that burn very quickly and at higher temperatures, generating black, toxic smoke and gases that make it extremely difficult to see and breathe in a matter of moments.
Out and about
When you’re out and about, situational awareness is key! Remember to be aware of your surroundings and make a plan for how you would escape a building in the event of a fire or other emergency.
- When you’re preparing to enter an occupancy, ask yourself if it looks safe and well-maintained.
- Check to see that doors aren’t locked or blocked from the inside.
- Look for the two closest exits and identify the path you would take to reach them.
- If you hear the fire alarm system sound, take it seriously and exit the building calmly but quickly. This is particularly important in larger occupancies like malls and movie theaters, where it may be too late to escape if you wait to see evidence of fire.