Fire Escape Planning Safety Tips

Be sure your family can get out quickly and safely in case of a fire in your home. Plan and practice your home fire escape. Use the guidelines below to help make sure your family is prepared.

Plan Ahead! If a fire breaks out in your home, you may have only a few minutes to get out safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Everyone needs to know what to do and where to go if there is a fire.

Safety Tips

  • MAKE a home escape plan. Draw a map of your home showing all doors and windows. Discuss the plan with everyone in your home.
  • KNOW at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily.
  • HAVE an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole, or mailbox) a safe distance from the home where everyone should meet.
  • PRACTICE your home fire drill at night and during the day with everyone in your home, twice a year.
  • PRACTICE using different ways out.
  • TEACH children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
  • CLOSE doors behind you as you leave.

If the alarm sounds…

  • If the smoke alarm sounds, GET OUT AND STAY OUT. Never go back inside for people or pets.
  • If you have to escape through smoke, GET LOW AND GO under the smoke to your way out.
  • CALL the fire department from outside your home.
Two axes icon


A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire. Install smoke alarms inside every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one smoke •alarm sounds, they all sound.

According to an NFPA survey, only one of every three American households have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.

While 71% of Americans have an escape plan in case of a fire, only 47% of those have practiced it.

One-third of American households who made an estimate thought they would have at least 6 minutes before a fire in their home would become life-threatening. The time available is often less. And only 8% said their first thought on hearing a smoke alarm would be to get out!

Apartment fire safety begins with a plan. Don’t Let Your World Go Up in Smoke. If you live in an apartment or condominium you need to know how to get out quickly if a fire starts. Follow these steps to stay safe.

Building Fire Safety

  • Don’t prop open exit or stairway doors. These are installed to slow the spread of heat and smoke if there is a fire.
  • Speak to your apartment manager if you see a damaged smoke alarm, fire extinguisher or an emergency light that has burned out.

Be Prepared

Create an escape plan. Discuss how you will get outside. Practice your plan.

  • Count the number of doors there are between your apartment and the nearest fire exit. Memorize the number in case you have to find the exit in the dark.
  • Know where all the exit doors and stairs are on your floor.
  • Learn your building evacuation plan if you have one. Create and practice an escape plan for your own apartment.

Stay Calm

In the event of a fire, stay calm. Move to the exit as you have practiced. Call the fire department once you are outside.

  • If your door feels warm to the touch, do not attempt to open it. Call 9-1-1 and tell the dispatcher your apartment number and that you can’t open your door.
  • Stuff the cracks around the door with towels, rags, bedding, or tape. Cover vents. { Wait at a window and signal for help with a flashlight or by waving a white cloth.
  • If your apartment door is cool to the touch, open it slowly. Stay low and check for smoke or fire in the hallway. If the hallway is safe, follow your building’s evacuation plan.
  • Never use an elevator to escape a fire. Always use the stairs. Wait Outside for the Fire Department Once you are outside, move away from the building. Give firefighters and fire trucks plenty of space.

Wait Outside for the Fire Department

  • Stay outside. Do not go back inside for any reason.
  • If you think someone is still inside, tell firefighters where you think they are.
  • Wait until firefighters tell you it’s safe to go back inside.
Two axes icon

Make sure your apartment has working smoke alarms.

Have a smoke alarm inside each sleeping room. Test them every month. Replace the batteries every year. Tell your apartment manager if you think there is a problem with one of your smoke alarms.

How to make a Home Fire Escape Plan

Draw a map of your home. Show all doors and windows.
Visit each room. Find two ways out.
All windows and doors should open easily. You should be able to use them to get outside.
Make sure your home has smoke alarms. Push the test button to make sure each alarm is working.
Pick a meeting place outside. It should be in front of your home. Everyone will meet at the meeting place.
Make sure your house or building number can be seen from the street.
Talk about your plan with everyone in your home.
Learn the emergency phone number for your fire department.
Practice your home fire drill!
Make your own home fire escape plan using the grid provided on page 2 of this downloadable document.
Two axes icon

Make your own Home Fire Escape Plan

Download Worksheet
Escape floor plan example