• By Albert Depew

Fire Drills in the Home

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Serving with pride, commitment, and compassion

People can survive even major fires in their homes if they get out quickly and stay out.

Rules for Survivors

  • Install and maintain smoke detectors. (change the batteries when you change your clocks in spring and fall)
  • Make an escape plan and practice it.
  • Consider installing an automatic sprinkler system.

Plan Your Escape

When a fire occurs, there is no time for planning. Sit down with your family today and make a step-by-step plan for escaping a fire.

Draw a floor-plan of your home..

..marking two (2) ways out of every room-- especially bedrooms.

Agree on a meeting place..

..outside your home where every member of the household will gather after escaping a fire to wait for the fire department. This allows you to count heads and inform the fire department if anyone is trapped inside the burning building.

Practice your escape plan..

.. at least twice a year. Have a fire drill in your home. Appoint someone to be monitor and have everyone participate. A fire drill is not a race. Get out quickly, but carefully.

Make your exit drill realistic

Pretend that some exits are blocked by fire and practice alternative escape routes. Pretend that the lights are out and that some escape routes are filling with smoke.

Be Prepared!

If you live in an apartment, be sure all doors and windows can be unlocked easily, even in the dark. Use the stairs to leave the building. Never use an elevator during a fire; it may stop between floors or take you to a floor where the fire is burning.

If you live in a two-story house, make sure everyone in the household can unlock all doors and windows quickly. If you must escape from a second-story window, be sure there is a safe way to reach the ground. Make special arrangements for children, older adults, and people with disabilities. Disabled people should have a phone in their bedrooms, and, if possible, should sleep on the first floor.

Test doors before you open them

While kneeling or crouching at the door, reach up as high as you can and touch the door, the knob, and the space between the door and its frame with the back of your hand. If the door is hot, use another escape route. If the door is cool, open it with caution.

If you are trapped...

..close the doors between you and the fire. Stuff the cracks around the doors to keep smoke out. Wait at a window and signal for help with light-colored cloth or a flashlight. If there's a phone in the room, call the fire department and tell them exactly where you are.

Get out fast...Don't stop for anything

Do not try to rescue possessions or pets. Go directly to your meeting place, and then call the fire department from a neighbor's phone. Every member of your household should know how to call the fire department. Post the emergency number and your address at each phone for your children, babysitters, and visitors.

Crawl low under smoke

Smoke contains deadly gases, and heat rises. Cleaner air will be near the floor. If you encounter smoke using your primary exit, use your alternative escape plan. If you must exit through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees, keeping your head 12 to 24 inches above the floor. Teach your children not to hide in closets or under the bed if they get scared. Have them go into a corner, close to the door, and lay on the floor.


Once you are out of your home, don't go back for any reason. If people are trapped, the fire fighters have the best chance of rescuing them. The heat and smoke of a fire are overpowering. Fire fighters have the training, experience, and protective equipment needed to enter burning buildings.