Home Fire Escape Planning
Did you know that 7 out of 10 fires in Canada occur at home? Protect your family and home from fire with smoke alarms and by planning your escape.
Installing smoke alarms in your home provides valuable time for you and your family to escape when fire strikes. This early warning is critical because the majority of fatal home fires occur at night while people are sleeping. Place smoke alarms at the top of stairways leading to bedrooms and at the top of stairs leading from the basement. Every home must have at least one smoke alarm for each floor where there are sleeping areas and ideally one should be installed in each bedroom. Test your smoke alarms weekly and immediately replace batteries when needed. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s installation and maintenance instructions. Smoke alarms are simple to install and save lives. For more information, visit our Smoke Alarms page.
Draw a floor plan of your home showing all possible exits from each room. Plan a main escape route and an alternate escape route from each room, especially bedrooms. When fire strikes, a planned step-by-step escape route can reduce panic and confusion. Most of all, it can save lives.
Choose a meeting place
Arrange an outside meeting place and a safe location to call 9-1-1. The best place to meet is in front of your home, where firefighters will arrive.
Practice your plan
Conduct a fire drill at least once every six months. The best place to start your fire drill is from a bedroom. Sound the alarm and get everyone in the home to participate. In a real fire, you must be prepared to move quickly and carefully without confusion. Don’t rush through the drill. Make sure everyone knows exactly what to do. After the drill, discuss what took place and how to improve performance.
Make your fire drill as realistic as possible. Practice two escape routes. Vary your drills. For example, one drill might place a fire in an attic while another might place it in a kitchen. Make sure everyone understands how escape routes are altered depending on different fire locations. Pretend that there are no lights, and that your escape routes are filling with smoke.
Crawl low under smoke
Heat and smoke rise so the air by the floor is the coolest and clearest. If you encounter smoke or flames while evacuating, stay close to the floor. Get down on your hands and knees and crawl to the nearest safe exit.
Test every door
Before opening any door, make sure it is safe to do so. Reach up with the back of your hand to touch the door, the door handle, and the space between the door and frame. If any of them feel hot, use your alternate exit. If everything feels cool, brace your shoulder against the door and open it carefully. Be ready to close it quickly if heat or smoke rush in. As you leave, close all doors behind you. Closed doors restrain the deadly speed of smoke and fire!
If you are trapped
Close doors between you and the fire. Use blankets or towels to cover vents and cracks between floors and doors. Wait at a window and signal for help by using a flashlight or by waving a bright coloured sheet or cloth. If there is a phone in the room, call 9-1-1, and tell them exactly where you are.
In an apartment
It is important that everyone be able to unlock all locks quickly. Use stairways to leave the building. Don’t use an elevator. The heat may activate call buttons and carry you to a fire floor. The elevator may also lose power.
In a two-storey house
Make sure everyone can unlock all locks and open all windows and doors quickly. Know how to escape safely from the second floor. Make appropriate arrangements for small children and people with special needs.
Get out fast
Make sure your family knows to leave immediately when they hear a smoke alarm or someone yelling, “Fire!”
Don’t try to take possessions or pets. After you are out, call 9-1-1.
Don’t go back, no matter what
Once outside and at the designated meeting place, no one re-enters the burning house. Firefighters are equipped and trained to handle rescue operations and they will let you know when it is safe to go back into the house. Get out and stay out!