Fire happens fast! When your smoke alarms sounds, you and your family may have as little as one or two minutes to escape safely. This is why it is important to have working smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside all sleeping areas, and a step-by-step Home Escape Plan in case of an emergency.
Your Home Escape Plan should include the following…
- A floor plan of your home that marks two ways out of each room, if possible
- A designated meeting spot outside, in front of your home
With your entire family, ensure the following…
- All escape routes are known
- Family members who may need assistance to get out are identified
- All family members can unlock all doors and windows quickly, even in the dark.
- All family members know to close doors behind them when escaping
- The location of family meeting spot is clearly marked
- A family head count will be is completed at the meeting spot, and shared with firefighters upon their arrival.
- Family members never try to rescue pets or belongings. Never go back inside for anything.
- Family members go directly to the designated meeting spot and call 9-1-1 from a cell phone or from a neighbour's phone.
- Everyone knows how to dial 9-1-1.
Practice your Home Escape Plan…
- Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.
- Practice your escape plan at night and during the day with all members of your family or people you live with.
- Practice your escape plan using different escape routes.
Escape planning for older adults - Plan for your abilities:
Making a home fire escape plan for yourself and/or the older adults in your household means making plans for your abilities and home environment:
- Reduce the risk of trips/falls during an escape by removing clutter in the hallways, stairways, and near exits/windows for a clear, safe path out of your home. Make sure all windows and doors are able to open in an emergency.
- If you use a walker or wheelchair, check all exits to be sure you can fit through the doorways.
- Keep your walker, scooter, cane, or wheelchair by your bed/where you sleep to make sure you can reach it quickly
- Keep your eyeglasses, mobile phone, and a flashlight by your bed/where you sleep to be able to reach them quickly in an emergency.
- Consider sleeping in a room on the ground floor to make emergency escape easier.
- If you are deaf, hearing impaired, or have trouble hearing, install a bedside alert such as a bed shaker alarm that works with your smoke alarm to alert you of a fire. Strobe light alarms can be added to your smoke alarms for a visual alert. These can be found on line or in most retail and hardware stores.
- For people who are visually impaired or blind, the sound of the smoke alarm can become disorienting in an emergency. Practice the escape plan with the sound of the alarm to become familiar with, and practice with the extra noise.
- If you have a service animal, agree on a plan to keep the animal with you during an emergency.
- When looking for an apartment or high-rise home, look for one with an automatic sprinkler system
- For people with cognitive disabilities, work with their healthcare providers and local fire department to make a plan that works for their needs.
Source: National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
Home Escape Tips:
- While kneeling or crouching at the door, reachup 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. Test doors before opening them.
- If you cannot escape your bedroom safely, keep your door shut, place a towel or blanket at the bottom of the door and stand near the window for fire service to reach you. You can use a flashlight to shine out the window or wave clothing/a towel to alert emergency personnel. Call 9-1-1 to let the fire department know you are inside the home.
- Smoke contains deadly gases and heat rises. During a fire, cleaner air will be near the floor. If you encounter smoke when using your primary exit, use your alternate escape plan. If you must exit through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees keeping your head 30 to 60 cm above the floor.
- If you live in an apartment building, use stairways to escape. Never use an elevator during a fire. It may stop between floors or take you to a floor where the fire is burning.