What to do During a Home Fire

If a fire breaks out at your home, you must react quickly. A small flame can grow and become a major fire within 30 seconds. In a few minutes, a house can fill with smoke and flames.

Get out of the House

Leave the house immediately. If you must go through smoke, cover your mouth and crawl under the smoke. Do not stand up; poison gases and heat from the smoke can kill you.

Before you open a door, touch the door or doorknob. If it is hot, do not open the door; find another escape route. Otherwise, slowly open the door and be prepared to shut it immediately if you see fire or smoke.

If you cannot escape, keep the door shut; use sheets or towels to cover any vents or cracks around doors. This will keep the smoke out of the room. Call 911 and let them know where you are. Use a flashlight or light-colored cloth to signal for help from a window.

After leaving the house, do not go back inside for any reason. Make sure your family members are safe. Call 911 and report the fire. If anyone is missing, tell the firefighters immediately. They are properly equipped for rescue operations.

Prepare in Advance

  1. Fire Alarms: The best way to survive a fire is to prepare in advance. Install fire alarms on every floor of your house. Most home-fire deaths occur because houses do not have working fire alarms. Test your alarms every month.
  2. Prepare Your Family: Make an escape plan. Draw a diagram of each floor of your house, including the windows and doors. Locate two ways to escape from every room. Be sure that all windows and doors open easily and that security bars have quick-release devices. Teach your children how to call 911 and report the address and other information to the dispatcher. Make sure your house number is easy to read from the street, especially in the dark.
  3. Select a Meeting Place for Your Family: Pick a location that is a safe distance away from your home. Plan to meet in front of your house, maybe at a certain tree or light post, so you can quickly determine if everyone is safe.
  4. Practice: Practice the escape plan with your entire family twice a year; include nighttime drills. Use different scenarios, perhaps locating the fire in the living room, the kitchen or a hallway. Teach your children how to escape independently in case you are not able to help them. If you have a plan, you and your family will have the best chance for survival in a fire.

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