Fire Escape Plan

In a fire, you are excited and unable to think clearly, so having a fire escape plan in place helps prevent panic, which can result in injury or death.

The first few minutes after the start of a fire are important to those in the building. Fire travels quickly, and the hottest and largest concentration of smoke and gasses will rise to the highest point.

A majority of the people killed by fire die as a result of heat and gases, not by the direct flame.

Creating An Escape Plan

When developing a fire escape plan (PDF) for your home, involve the entire family. Begin by drawing a simple floor plan of the home. A plan should be made for each floor.

Develop a floor plan showing normal and emergency exit routes from each sleeping area. Use solid and broken arrows to show primary and secondary routes. Plan 2 exits from each room. The normal exit route will be used if possible. If the normal route is blocked, the alternate route will be used. Some means of alarm should also be established. Your family’s alarm device can be a whistle, bell or pan and spoon. Regardless of your alarm choice, never play with your means of sounding an alarm.

After creating your escape plan, discuss how everyone will escape if fire is detected and the alarm is sounded.

Things to consider and discuss include:

  • Before opening a door, test to make sure it is not hot.
  • Close doors behind you when exiting the home.
  • Make sure windows and screens can be opened. In the event of a fire, break the window out if necessary.
  • If the doorway is blocked, use a rope or chain ladder to exit via a window and use a proper method for dropping from a window.
  • Be alert for fire below. Fire may be blocking exit from a window.
  • Jump only as a last resort.
  • Babies, elderly and disabled persons need special assistance in emergency situations.
  • Plan on an assembly point, or a place for everyone to meet outside the home.

If you find yourself unable to escape from a burning building:

  • Think - it may save your life.
  • Seal cracks around doors with cloths or rags; soak them in water if possible.
  • Stay low - go to a window and lean out in order to get fresh air.
  • Open a window slightly at the top to assist in smoke removal.
  • Let those outside know where you are - telephone, signal from a window with a sheet, shout, etc.
  • Once you have escaped a burning building, do not go back for personal belongings, pets, coats or valuables.
  • Those who have escaped the building should inform the Fire Department of missing or trapped persons.

Escape From Apartment Buildings

Those living in apartment buildings should follow the steps provided above for creating a home fire escape plan.

If a fire occurs, alert other apartment occupants by shouting or pounding on doors. Sound the fire alarm if one is available in the building.

Upon leaving the apartment, always close the apartment door behind you. In exiting your apartment under emergency conditions, approach stairways with caution. Do not use an elevator as an escape in case of fire.

Escape From High Rise Buildings or Public Places

  • Prepare an escape plan showing escape routes and post in your work place. Encourage your company to practice fire drills.
  • Learn the location of fire exits and alarm boxes near you and know the Fire Department’s phone number.
  • Make mental notes of several fire exits whenever you enter a restaurant, store, theater or other public place.
  • If you see smoke or detect a burning smell, sound the alarm. As you exit a burning building, close doors behind you. Always use stairs to exit a building, never an elevator.