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Fire Safety and House Escape Plan

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A fire at home can be a scary thing but the best way to be safe is to have an emergency plan in advance. Work with your mom and dad to plan it out and practice an emergency escape. Hang the drawing of the emergency plan on the fridge or somewhere where everyone can easily see it. Below are some great ways to start your emergency fire escape plan.

1.    More Than One Exit: Go around to every room in your house to make sure that it has two or more ways to escape. Exits can be either a window or a door. This is very important because if the fire is behind one door, you can always escape through another door or window. If the room is on an upper floor, make sure everyone knows where the emergency ladder is kept. Practice going down the emergency ladder with your parents.

2.    Smoke Detectors and Alarms: It is very important for every room in the house to have a smoke alarm for every floor. There should also be an extra smoke alarm outside bedrooms because if there is a fire at night, you may not realize until it is too late. Make a chart to mark whether mom or dad has tested the alarms each month. If the alarm makes a small beeping sound, then the batteries need to be replaced.

3.    Gathering Area Outdoors: When everyone has escaped from the house, they should meet at a pre-planned area outside. The neighbor’s lawn or a lamp post on the street are good places to meet. Make sure that the meeting area is a bit far from the house so that everyone can stay safe. Also remember that the firemen will need space for their trucks and equipment, so don’t block the area around the house. If you have a cat or dog, keep them on a leash so that they don’t run away during the commotion.

4.    Practice, practice, practice: The best way to make sure that everyone is safe is to know every part of the emergency plan really well. Once every six months, gather the whole family and practice escaping from an imaginary fire. This way, if there ever is a fire in real life, it won’t be so scary since everyone will know exactly what to do. If there is a real fire, never go inside until the firemen have said that it is safe.


5.    Fires in Apartment Buildings: Escaping from an apartment building is a little different from escaping from a house. Most apartment buildings practice an emergency escape once or twice a year. When you practice, you’ll notice that everyone has to take the stairs. Never take the elevators during a fire alarm because they could get stuck and stop. It is very dangerous to be trapped in an elevator during a fire. Before leaving the apartment, take the key and lock the door behind you if there is nobody else at home. Sometimes if the fire is too close, it is best to shut the door and stay inside the apartment. This method is known as a passive escape.


6.    Passive Escape Rules:

  • Shut all the doors but do not lock them. Place wet towels at the bottom of all the doors and air vents so that smoke does not easily enter. Try to also seal the cracks around the top and sides of the door if you can.
  • Open windows in your apartment to allow fresh air in. If you notice that smoke is coming in through a window, close it immediately!
  • Call 911 and tell them that you are trapped inside. Tell them your building’s address, your apartment number and your name.
  • Attach a white or pale bed sheet, large piece of clothing or towel near the windowsill so that it hangs out of the window. This is a way to signal to the firemen that you are still inside. Also keep a flashlight and wave it from the window if it is night.
  • If smoke is entering the apartment, get a towel or piece of cloth, wet it completely with cold water and cover your nose and mouth with it to avoid breathing in smoke. Lie down on the floor in an area that is far away from the fire or put your head near an open window to breath fresh air.
  • Don’t panic while you wait. The firemen are trained experts and they will come to rescue you.


Want to learn more about fire?

1.    Use this grid (PDF) to draw the outline of your home and plan your escape

2.    Try a fire safety test (PDF) to see how much you know about escaping a fire.

3.    Think you know all about smoke alarms? Do this smoke alarm quiz and check how well you score!

4.    Give this sleepover checklist to your parents before going to a sleepover.

5.    The San Diego Fire Department has prepared a special list of tips about fire safety just for kids!

6.    Download this fire safety e-booklet (PDF) for coloring pages, word searches and lots of games!

7.    You can be official fire officer for your home! Use this fire safety checklist (PDF) to make sure that there are no fire risks at home.

8.    Try this interactive guide to review the important rules of what to do during a fire.

9.    Learn this fire safety song to help memorize the most important parts of being safe during a fire.

10. Ask mom or dad to help with this science experiment to learn how fire works. Do it in a safe place, such as the kitchen, away from curtains, paper or wood.

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