When the smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out! Eighty percent of fire deaths happen in the home. That’s why you need working smoke alarms and a plan to get out of the home in case of fire.
Make a home escape plan. Get everyone in your home together and find all the doors and windows that lead outside. Make sure they open easily. Windows or doors with security bars, grills or window guards should have emergency release devices so they can be used for escape. Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. One way out will be the door and the second way out may be a window or another door. Stairways and ways out should be clear of furniture and clutter. Choose a meeting place a safe distance from the home where everyone should meet once they’ve escaped. Have a plan for anyone in your home who may need assistance to escape, such as young children, older adults or people with disabilities. Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
Practice your plan with everyone in your home at least twice a year. Push the smoke alarm button to start the drill. Close doors behind you as you leave and go to your meeting place outside. Practice your escape plan night and day and practice using different ways out.
Have working smoke alarms. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside each bedroom and outside each sleeping area. Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they will all sound. Make sure everyone knows what your smoke alarms sound like and can hear the sound of the smoke alarms. Test your smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
Make a safe escape. When a smoke alarms sounds and there is smoke or fire, get out and stay out. If there is smoke blocking your way out, use your second way out. If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your way out. Close all doors behind you. If you can’t get to someone who needs help, leave the home and call 9-1-1. Tell the dispatcher where the person is located. Once outside, call 9-1-1 from your cell phone or neighbor’s phone. Never go back into a burning building.
Multi-story buildings: Your building management should post the emergency escape plan on every floor. Learn and practice your building’s escape plan. Know the location of all doors leading outside and where the fire alarms are. During a drill or fire, follow instructions given over your building’s public address system, if you have one. Keep a cell phone with you during an emergency. Use the stairs – never use elevators during a fire. If you are trapped inside, seal vents and cracks around doors with a wet cloth. Call 9-1-1 and tell them where you are. Signal from a window with a flashlight or light-colored cloth.
Test doors: Kneel at the door, reach up as high as you can and touch the door, the knob and the crack between the door and its frame with the back of your hand. If this area feels warm, use another escape route. If the area feels cool, open it cautiously. Put your shoulder against the door and open slowly. Slam it shut if there is smoke or flame on the other side.
Crawl low under smoke: Smoke contains deadly gases and heat. During a fire cleaner air will be near the floor. If you find smoke use another exit, If you must exit through the smoke, crawl on your hands and knees as low as you can toward the exit. If you are trapped, close as many door between you and the fire. Use cloth to seal the cracks around the door to keep out smoke. Wait at the window and signal for help with a light colored cloth or flashlight and voice. If there is a phone in the room call 9-1-1 and tell them where you are.
Stay out: Once you are out, don’t go back inside for any reason! The heat and smoke are overpowering. Stay at the meeting place so you can inform rescuers’ of what in going on. If you must leave the meeting place to get help, return as soon as you can so people are not looking for you.