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You May Have Only Two Minutes to Escape a Home Fire

Home Fire Escape Plan
Take two easy steps to help protect your home.

The biggest disaster threat people face in this country is a fire in their home. Home fires can happen quickly - devastating lives and property. But unlike other disasters, most home fires can be prevented.

The American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is underway across the U.S., aiming to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent over a period of five years. Since the Home Fire Campaign started, it has been credited with saving a number of lives. Volunteers have already installed hundreds of thousands of smoke alarms in more than 4,100 cities and towns across the United States.

Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. The Red Cross recommends two easy steps to help protect your home and to increase your chances of surviving a fire: get a smoke alarm and create a fire escape plan.

SMOKE ALARMS Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half.

  • Place smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms.
  • Test smoke alarms once a month and change the batteries at least once a year.
  • Install a new battery immediately if an alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low.
  • Teach children what the smoke alarm sounds like and what to do when they hear it.
  • Never disable a smoke alarm.
  • FIRE ESCAPE PLAN You may only have two minutes to escape when a fire occurs, but most people mistakenly believe they have more than twice as long to get out.

  • Home fire plans should include at least two ways to escape from every room of your home.
  • Select a meeting spot at a safe distance from your home where family members can meet after a fire.
  • Discuss the plan with everyone in the household and practice it at least twice a year.
  • Make sure that you practice that plan until every member of your household can escape in less than two minutes.
  • To learn more about how to protect yourself and your loved ones from home fires, including the Red Cross home fire safety checklist, fire escape plan worksheets and more, visit the home fire information on this web site.

    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 or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.