Can you find your way to safety?
It is 2 o’clock in the morning and you are suddenly awoken by a loud but discernible noise. You know immediately that something is wrong. Suddenly you notice that the hallway is charged with thick smoke and offering decreasing visibility. Your home is transforming into a deadly and mysterious maze. Have you and your loved ones established a home escape plan? Can you find your way to safety?
Each year the devastating effects of fire kill almost 4,000 people and injure nearly 22,000 others. These startling statistics clearly portray a need to be prepared in the event of a fire. Please take the time to establish and practice a home escape plan.
- Make sure to have at least one smoke alarm on each level of the home and in or near each sleeping area. Test the alarms every month by pushing the test button, and replace the batteries once a year or when the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low. (Note: Newer smoke alarms have a signal repetition pattern of three beeps, followed by a one and a half second pause.)
- When entering other buildings, including other people’s homes, ask what type of emergency alarm system is in place. If it sounds, act immediately.
- Draw a floor plan of your home. Mark all doors and windows, and the location of each smoke alarm. If windows or doors have security bars, equip them with quick-release devices.
- Locate two escape routes from each room. The first way out would be the door, and the second way out could be a window.
- As you exit your home, close all doors behind you to slow the spread of fire and smoke.
- If your exit is blocked by smoke or fire, use your second exit to escape. If you must escape through smoke, stay low and crawl under the smoke to safety. Smoke will rise to the ceiling, leaving cooler, cleaner air close to the floor. Crawl on your hands and knees, not belly, because heavier poisons will settle in a thin layer on the floor.
- If you live in a high-rise building, use the stairs — never the elevator — in case of fire.
- Choose a meeting place a safe distance from your home and mark it on the escape plan. A good meeting place would be a tree, telephone pole, or a neighbor’s home. In case of fire, everyone should gather at the meeting place.
- Make sure the street number/address of your home is visible to firefighters.
- Memorize the emergency number of the local fire department. Once outside, call that number immediately from a nearby or neighbor’s phone, or use a portable or cellular phone you can grab quickly on the way out.
- Practice your escape drill at least twice a year.
- NEVER go back inside a burning building.