Here's our 12-point fire escape plan checklist:
1. Make sure you formulate both a main and an alternate
route. This will help avoid panic if your primary path
is too dangerous to follow.
2. Create a simple, efficient route. The idea is to get
out of the house as quickly as possible. Don't make provisions
for stopping to grab important possessions or papers. Your
family is the most important thing. Call the fire department
from a neighbor's house, instead of wasting precious escape
time placing a call during a fire.
3. Practice fire drills with both your family and any
babysitters or relatives who regularly care for your children.
4. If you live in a house that has two or more stories,
buy a portable escape ladder that can be lowered out a
designated window. Make sure everyone knows where it is
and how it works.
5. If you live in an apartment building, don't make elevators
part of your plan because they can easily malfunction or
get trapped between floors.
6. Have a designated meeting place — a safe spot
outside the house where everyone can gather and be accounted
7. Remember that smoke and poisonous gas, not flames,
are the leading cause of fire-related deaths. To avoid
inhaling deadly fumes, crawl low to the ground and securely
carry your child under you with one arm to offer protection.
8. Stop, drop, and roll if your clothing or hair catches
on fire. You learned the rule in first grade and it really
works, so teach it to your children. If your child's clothing
is on fire, wrap him quickly in a blanket to put the flames
9. In an actual fire, test door handles with your fingertips
before grasping them firmly. If they're hot, use an alternate
route. Windows are excellent exits on first floors and
can be used on upper floors to gain temporary refuge on
roofs and porches until help arrives.
10. Call your local fire department or volunteer rescue
squad to schedule an in-home visit. Most communities offer
fire-prevention training as a free service to residents
or members. Firefighters can offer suggestions on creating
the safest route possible in your home, while also checking
your smoke alarms and fire extinguishers, and pointing
out any potential fire hazards you hadn't recognized.
11. Teach your children that if trapped in their room
they should lie on the floor close to their bed. That is
the first place firefighters will look for them.
12. If hallways and exit routes are filled with smoke,
get down and crawl. Smoke rises, so the air will be a bit
cleaner closer to the floor.