Don’t wait: plan your escape from fire

If your smoke alarm sounds to alert you of a fire, every second counts – you might have as little as two minutes to escape. This means you have the same amount of time to get everyone out of harm’s way as you usually take to brush your teeth.

Creating a home fire escape plan doesn’t take long, and it helps members of your household know how to get out safely when there’s a fire.

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Plan your escape

  • Create a floorplan for each floor of your home, marking rooms, doors, windows and smoke alarms. Identify two ways out of each room – typically a door and a window – and plan paths to exit from those points.
  • If your plan has an escape through a second-floor window, consider purchasing fire escape ladders. Make sure you understand how to use these ladders before an emergency.
  • Set a meeting spot in front of your home where everyone will meet upon their escape. This can be a mailbox, tree, stop sign or anything else easily identifiable day or night. This spot should be at least 10 metres (30 feet) from your home and on the same side of the street.
  • Make sure your home has working smoke alarms. Install at least one smoke alarm on every floor and near or in all sleeping areas. Test them monthly, change batteries yearly and replace alarms if they’re more than 10 years old.

Practice your escape

  • Practice your home fire escape plan twice each year, once during the day and once at night. Practice escaping using different routes.
  • Teach children to escape on their own in case you aren’t able to help them in an emergency. Note: escaping through a window should only be practiced with an adult from a first-storey window.
  • Test all windows and doors to make sure they open easily. Make sure everyone knows how to remove window screens, if needed.

Escape safely

  • When the smoke alarm sounds, immediately start your escape.
  • Using the back of your hand, touch the door and feel for heat. If the door is hot or you see smoke coming in through the cracks around the door, use another escape route.
  • If you open a door, open it slowly and be ready to close the door if heavy smoke or fire is present.
  • Stay low to the ground and crawl to your exit.
  • Close doors behind you as you leave each room; this may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.
  • Get out and stay out. Never go back inside for people or pets.
  • Call 911 and notify the operator of any people or pets trapped inside. If possible, tell the operator and firefighters where the persons/pets are located.
  • If you can’t exit your home, close the door, cover vents and seal cracks around doors with cloth or tape to keep smoke out. Call 911 and tell the operator where you are.

Instructions to build your home fire escape plan.

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