Basic fire escape planning
• Pull together everyone in your household and make
a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits
and escape routes. Households with children should consider
drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of
each room, including windows and doors. Also, mark the location
of each smoke alarm. For easy planning, download the FPW escape
plan grid (PDF*, 464 KB). This is a great way to get children
involved in fire safety in a non-threatening way.
• Make sure that you have at least one smoke alarm
on every level of your home.
• Everyone in the household must understand the escape
plan. When you walk through your plan, check to make sure
the escape routes are clear and doors and windows canbe opened
Choose an outside meeting place (i.e. neighbor's house, a
light post, mailbox, or stop sign) a safe distance in front
of your home where everyone can meet after they've escaped.
Make sure to mark the location of the meeting place on your
• Go outside to see if your street number is clearly
visible from the road. If not, paint it on the curb or install
house numbers to ensure that responding emergency personnel
can find your home.
• Have everyone memorize the emergency phone number
of the fire department. That way any member of the household
can call from a neighbor's home or a cellular phone once safely
• If there are infants, older adults or family members
with mobility limitations make sure that someone is assigned
to assist them in the fire drill and in the event of an emergency.
Assign a backup person too, in case the designee is not home
during the emergency.
• If windows or doors in your home have security bars,
make sure that the bars have quick-release mechanisms inside
so that they can be opened immediately in an emergency. Quick-release
mechanisms won't compromise your security - but they will
increase your chances of safely escaping a home fire.
• Tell guests or visitors to your home about your family's
fire escape plan. When staying overnight at other people's
homes, ask about their escape plan. If they don't have a plan
in place, offer to help them make one. This is especially
important when children are permitted to attend "sleepovers"
at friends' homes.
• Be fully prepared for a real fire: when a smoke alarm
sounds, get out immediately. Residents of high-rise and apartment
buildings may be safer "defending in place."
• Once you're out, stay out! Under no circumstances
should you ever go back into a burning building. If someone
is missing, inform the fire department dispatcher when you
call. Firefighters have the skills and equipment to perform