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A Home Fire Escape Plan Can Save Your Life

  • Mapping Out Your Escape Plan - Single Family Home
  • Mapping Out Your Escape Plan - Multi-Family Dwelling
  • Mapping Out Your Escape Plan - High-Rise Apartment Complex
  • Key Findings
Every household should develop a fire escape plan and practice several times a year.

It’s the middle of the night. You’re sound asleep when suddenly the smoke alarms in your house go off. It’s dark. The house is filling with smoke. Fire experts say you have about two minutes to get out safely. Would you and your family know what you should do?

The American Red Cross has launched a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next five years. As part of the effort, people are being asked to do two simple things that can help save lives – check their smoke alarms and develop an evacuation plan, practicing fire drills at home.

Stephen Davis of Tucson, Arizona knows how important having an escape plan and practicing it can be. About two years ago he woke up in the middle of the night to find his home was filled with smoke. "I said 'I think the house is on fire. There's smoke everywhere and I can't see anything.' When you're not prepared you have no idea what's going on," he said. "You're not fully awake. All you know is 'I need to get out of here because I can't breathe'."

MAKE A PLAN So how do you make that plan – what should it include? Every household should develop a fire escape plan and practice several times a year, at different times of the day. The Red Cross has a printable worksheet households can use to plan and practice home fire evacuations. The plan should include the following:

  • All members of the household should know two ways to get out of every room.
  • Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas or homes on the second floor or above. Learn how to use them and store them near the window.
  • Pick a place outside for everyone to meet and make sure everyone knows where it is.
  • Practice your home fire drill until everyone in the household can do it in less than two minutes.
  • Practice waking up to smoke alarms, low crawling and meeting outside. Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
  • Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.
  • HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN UNDERWAY The Red Cross is joining with fire departments and community groups all across the country to install smoke alarms in homes located in neighborhoods heavily affected by fires and teach people about fire safety. A recent survey conducted for the Red Cross showed that many people are mistaken about home fire safety details.

    Fire experts agree that people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home. However, many Americans (62 percent) mistakenly believe they have at least five minutes to escape and about 18 percent believe they have ten minutes or more to get out.

    About 42 percent of those polled said they could get out of a burning home in two minutes and almost 7 in 10 parents (69 percent) believed their children would know what to do or how to get out with little help despite the fact that many of these parents had not practiced fire drills with their kids or talked to them about fire safety.

  • Less than one in five families with children age 3-17 (18 percent) have actually practiced home fire drills.
  • Less than half of parents (48 percent) have talked to their families about fire safety.
  • Only one third of families with children (30 percent) have identified a safe place to meet outside their home.
  • The national public opinion survey was conducted for the Red Cross July 17-20, 2014 using ORC International’s Online CARAVAN omnibus survey. The study was conducted among a national sample of 1,130 American adults, including 311 parents of children aged 3-17. The total sample is balanced to be representative of the US adult population in terms of age, sex, geographic region, race and education. The margin of error for the total sample of 1,130 adults is +/- 2.92 percent. The margin of error for the sample of 311 parents is +/- 5.56 percent.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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