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How To Escape a Fire in the Home

Know and rehearse what to do in the event of a fire in the home, so that if it ever happens, you'll be able to escape quickly and calmly.


  • Step 1: If you can't exit because there is fire on the other side of the door and you can't reach a fire escape, seal yourself in the room. Close all doors and stuff wet towels, sheets, or clothing into any vents or cracks, or seal them with duct tape. Then, open a window and yell and wave a cloth to attract attention, or use a phone to call 911.
  • TIP: If the height of the fall is obviously unsafe, stay inside, waving your arms out the open window until help arrives.
  • Step 2: Once you are out of the burning building, gather at your meeting place. If emergency responders are not yet on the scene, call 911 or the fire department from a cell phone or from a neighbor's house.
  • Step 3: Never, ever go back into a burning house. Once you get out, stay out. If anyone is missing, tell the firefighters the likeliest place to find them inside.
  • FACT: Kitchen fires start the majority of house fires, but smoking is the #1 cause of fatal home fires.
  • Step 4: If you have no other option and your escape route is through a window, crawl out and use a fire escape to exit the building. If none is available, never jump. Instead, if you are two stories high or lower, dangle yourself out of the window feet first and then let go.
  • TIP: Close the door behind you as you flee, especially if you live in an apartment building or dorm. A closed door will help contain the flames and smoke.
  • Step 5: Establish an escape route. Decide on a point outside where you and everyone you live with can meet once you escape to make sure that everybody is out of the building. The best escape plans include two escape routes for each room, one out the door, and an alternative plan through a window.
  • TIP: Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
  • Step 6: If there is a fire, crawl beneath the smoke. Do not crawl on your belly; some poisons produced by smoke are heavier than air and will gather at the floor.
  • Step 7: If your escape route is through a doorway, feel the door first with the back of your hand before grabbing the doorknob. If it's warm to the touch, it's likely there's a fire on the other side—don't open it. If it is cool, brace your body against the door while staying low to the floor and slowly open it a crack. Check for smoke or fire in the hallway. If there is none, evacuate.
  • Step 8: Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly and that you know how to properly unlock security bars. Change smoke alarm batteries at least once a year and consider replacing your smoke alarm every ten years.

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