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Emergency Evacuation Plan

Safety Depends on Good Preparation


Updated January 24, 2014

Emergency safety depends on proper planning. It's important that the entire family know what to do in the event of a fire or other emergency. During a crisis, we humans respond the way we have been trained to do. Kids, especially, need a definite plan to help them react appropriately to an emergency. Evacuation plans are not just for fires, either, it's important to have a plan for any emergency.

Plan Your Escape

Write it down! Make a floor plan of your house:
  • use a fire escape grid
  • include each floor
  • note all potential exits - including windows
  • designate two ways out for each room
  • draw arrows to show which way to go (like hotels do)
  • designate a meeting spot
If your house has very little clearance on either side, and your family could find itself cut off between the front yard and the back yard. Designate meeting places in both yards. Instruct the kids to stay at the meeting place no matter how long it takes an adult to get to them.

Security bars need a quick release mechanism on the inside. If your house has security bars on the windows to keep bad guys out, make sure they aren't also keeping the good guys in. If security bars cannot be released, they need to be replaced.

Practice, Practice, Practice

There is no such thing as too much practice. make sure to practice escaping from each room in the house, through both exits. If it's necessary to climb out of a window, make sure kids practice using the fire escape ladder. The USFA recommends practicing fire drills in the home at least once per month. Be sure to practice releasing security bars as well. Any bars that do not release as necessary need to be repaired or replaced immediately.

No Hesitation

Time is the enemy in a house fire. There are gases in smoke that can overhwelm an adult in less than a minute. As soon as the smoke alarm starts beeping or someone in the house smells smoke or discovers fire, GET OUT! There is no time to waste.
  • Don't stop to get items
  • Don't stop to call 911
  • Don't go back in the house

Too Hot, Don't Touch

Always test a door with the back of your hand before you open it. If it is hot, leave it closed and exit through the window. Testing with the back of your hand is more sensitive. Opening a door with fire on the other side will cause the fire to jump into the room with you. Fire follows oxygen, and the room without fire has more oxygen than the room that is burning. Don't give fire the chance, keep a hot door closed.

Stay Low and Go

Heated air from a fire rises and takes smoke with it. The smoky, dangerous air will collect on the ceiling and steadily work its way down to the floor. Keep your head below the bad, smoky air by crawling on hands and knees during a fire. Remember: bad air up, good air down - stay low and go.

Huddle Up

Once out of the house, go to the meeting place and take attendance.

DO NOT GO BACK INSIDE - EVEN IF SOMEONE IS MISSING! Going back into a burning or unstable house can create a second victim. If someone is trapped inside, rescuers will need to find one person. If you go back inside, they'll need to find two. Once out, stay out.

Fire Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Make sure you have fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your house. Place alarms on the ceiling in each bedroom and hallway, the kitchen, and the laundry room. Check alarm batteries every month and replace them whenever you change your clocks for daylight savings time. Replace alarms every ten years or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Related Video
Plan a Home Fire Drill
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