Photo of a fire escape plan

Where can we buy a home smoke alarm?

Home smoke alarms are widely available in stores locally, including drug and discount stores, hardware and home improvement centers, department stores, and even some supermarkets.

What is a household escape plan and why is it so important?

An escape plan is a drawing of your home's lay-out showing two escape routes from each bedroom.

The primary escape route (solid line) will be a door and the secondary escape route (dotted line) will usually be a window. Everyone in the household should know this plan and be able to use it in case of fire.

An escape plan is useless if the household members do not practice it twice a year in home drills.

What's included in a household escape plan?

Besides identifying primary and secondary escape routes from bedrooms, the household members should choose a family meeting place outside well away from the home where all family members will meet once they're escaped. At the meeting place, the adults will determine who will go to a neighbor's phone and make the 9-1-1 call.

A household escape plan should include special provisions for bedridden and elderly persons, the handicapped, infants and toddlers, etc. -- all those who cannot escape without some help.

What are "the rules" for escaping a fire that everyone should know?

  • If there's smoke, get down on your hands and knees and crawl along the floor under the smoke where the cooler, cleaner air for breathing will be. You should remember that smoke contains invisible, highly poisonous gases that will impair your brain and ability to think rationally and lead to unconsciousness and death. It will also irritate your eyes and can temporarily blind you.
  • When your smoke alarm sounds, roll out of bed and crawl to your door. At your door, reach up and feel the door with your hand before opening it. If it's warm or hot, DO NOT open it! Instead, keep it closed and crawl to your window and get out. If the door is cool, open it slowly and be prepared to slam it shut again if you see smoke or fire.
  • After you've escaped, close as many doors behind you as you can. Closed doors help slow the spread of a fire within a building.
  • NEVER go back inside a building once you've safely escaped. Remain at your meeting place for help to arrive.
  • STOP-DROP-ROLL if your clothing catches fire. Be sure to cover your face with your hands as you're rolling. Running would only make the fire burn bigger, faster, and hotter!
  • Second-floor bedrooms need escape ladders since the Fire Department doesn't want anyone to jump. Escape ladders may be aluminum chain ladders, rope ladders or a collapsible combination.
  • If you're going to be having a baby-sitter or overnight guest(s), these people need to learn your household fire escape plan, too. They should also be instructed in the sounds made by the smoke alarm(s), the location of fire extinguishers, etc.
  • Bars on windows may help keep burglars out, but they can also trap people in fires. The only kind that should be on bedroom windows are those that can easily be released from the inside.