Home Escape Plan
Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as one or two minutes to escape safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Having a fire escape flan can make a lifesaving difference. Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes.
If you live in a high-rise apartment building, contact the building management for information on your building’s fire safety plan.
How to create a home fire escape plan
- Use grid paper, or print a Fire Escape Plan Template and draw a floor plan of your home. Show all doors and windows.
- Mark two ways out of each room, if possible.
- Mark all the smoke alarms.
- Pick a family meeting place outside.
- Practice twice a year!
Escape planning tips
Get out and stay out
When there is a fire, exit your home immediately; do not stop for anything. Always choose the escape route that is safest – the one with the least amount of smoke and heat – but be prepared to escape under toxic smoke if necessary. Closing doors on your way out slows the spread of the fire, giving you more time to safely escape. Do not try to rescue possessions or pets. Go directly to your meeting place and call 9-1-1. Once you are out of your home, do not go back inside for any reason.
Who needs help to escape?
Decide in advance who will assist the young children, older adults or people with disabilities in your household. People who have difficulty moving should have a phone in their sleeping area and, if possible, should sleep on the ground floor.
Test your doors and windows
Make sure everyone in the household can unlock all doors and windows quickly, even in the dark. Windows or doors with security bars need to be equipped with quick-release devices and everyone in the household should know how to use them. Remove anything that may block your escape routes and keep them clear throughout the year.
Use the stairs
If you live in an apartment building, use stairways to escape. Never use an elevator during a fire. It may stop between floors or take you to a floor where the fire is burning.
Two or three-storey houses
If you live in a house with more than one floor and you must escape from a window, be sure there is a safe way to reach the ground. Escape ladders can provide an additional escape route. Review the manufacturer's instructions carefully so you'll be able to use a safety ladder in an emergency. Store the ladder near the window, in an easily accessible location so you don't have to search for it during a fire.
When an escape route isn’t an option
In some cases, smoke or fire may prevent you from exiting your home. To prepare for an emergency like this, practice "sealing yourself in for safety" as part of your home fire escape plan. Close all doors between you and the fire. Use duct tape or towels to seal the door cracks and cover air vents to keep smoke from coming in. If possible, open your windows at the top and bottom so fresh air can get in. Call the fire department to report your exact location. Wave a flashlight or light-coloured cloth at the window to let the fire department know where you are located.
Put your plan to the test
Practice your home fire escape plan twice a year with everyone in your household. When practicing your home escape plan, follow these steps:
- Walk through the escape routes to make sure all exits are practical and easy to use.
- Test the smoke alarms to make sure they work and everyone can hear them.
- Practice feeling a door before opening it. With the back of your hand, feel the door, around the doorframe, and the doorknob. If it is warm, there is a fire nearby and you should use a different escape route. If the door is cool, open it slightly to determine if there is smoke or fire.
- Practice escaping through smoke by crawling on your hands and knees with your head 12-24 inches (30 to 60 cm) above the floor.
- If you live in a two or three-storey home, review the instructions on how to use and deploy your ladder.
- Have everyone meet at the meeting place written in the plan.
- Make sure everyone knows to call 9-1-1 to report a fire in your home. Review the information you need to provide when calling 9-1-1 including your home address.
- Hold a fire drill in your home. A fire drill is not a race. Get out quickly, but carefully. Make the drill realistic by pretending that some exits are blocked by smoke or flames and practice alternative escape routes.