6 steps to fire safety

Have a fire escape plan in place to avoid a tragedy

fire safety and prevention

Most adults across the country feel safest within their own homes, yet few families practice adequate fire safety precautions. During National Fire Safety Week, the National Safety Council is providing advice to help Americans better prepare their homes and protect their families before a fire occurs.


Fire Safety Month is in October and it's a time when families should evaluate the smoke alarms in their home and also practice a fire escape plan using the following guidelines:


Step 1. Make a home fire escape plan

  • First, working together as a family, draw a floor plan of your home. On your plan, find two ways out of every room, especially the bedrooms. Mark where all the doors are in your home. Mark where all the windows are. Draw the location of all your smoke alarms. Mark the place outside where everyone will meet.

  • Next, post emergency numbers next to every phone. Help your children memorize 2 things: 911 or the emergency number for your fire department; the street name and number for your home.

Step 2. Test your smoke alarms

  • Go through your home and test all the smoke alarms. If a fire happens at night, the alarms will wake you up in time to get to safety. Be sure you have at least one alarm on every level of your home and inside every bedroom. There are different types of alarms. It’s best to have both ionization AND photoelectric alarms in your home.

Step 3: Clear the way
  • If there is a fire, you may have as little as 2 to 3 minutes to get your family to safety. You have to snap into action and get out fast! Keep your exit routes clear at all times. Move everything off the stairs and out of the way. Make sure all doors and windows open easily.

Step 4: Walk through the plan with every member of your family

  • Show your children exactly what to do when the smoke alarm goes off. Roll out of bed and crawl over to the door. Using the back of the hand, feel the doorknob and the cracks around the door for heat. Tell your children if it feels cool, it’s safe to open the door a little and peek out. If you don’t see any smoke, go out the door to your meeting place outside. If the space around the door feels warm it may mean fire is near the door. You’ll need to use your second way out…most likely a window.

Step 5. Do the drill

  • Push the button on your smoke alarm so everyone knows the sound it makes if there is a fire. Have the assigned grownups go to each child’s room. Watch them roll out of bed and crawl over to the door. Make sure they feel around the door before opening. Tell them it’s cool. Watch them open the door a crack and peek out. Follow them as they crouch or crawl quickly using their primary escape route out the door to the meeting place. Close all the doors behind you. Once you get to the meeting place, pretend to call the fire department. Ask the kids if they know what the number is. Ask them to tell you the address of your home.

Step 6. Talk about the drill

  • Tell your kids what a great job they did. Reassure them that in a real fire, you will be there to help them get to safety. But it’s always good for everyone in the family to know the plan. Put your escape plan on the refrigerator where everyone can see it. When guests come to visit overnight, ask your kids to talk them through the plan. Practice a home fire drill at least twice a year.