Home Fire Escape Plan

Home Fire Escape Plan

An escape plan is a strategy for a safe exit from your home during a fire. Hopefully, you'll never have a fire in your home. But if a fire does occur, your safety will depend on calm, rational action. An escape plan can be your key to a safe way out. Once you think you've got this information mastered, test your knowledge by taking our home fire escape test listed below.


Draw the floor plan of your home on a piece of paper. Post your plan where it can be easily seen (such as on your refrigerator). Be sure to include:

  • All doors and windows
  • Primary and alternate exits
  • Emergency phone numbers
  • Outdoor meeting place
  • Special assignments (who will call fire department, sound the alarm, check that everyone got out, etc.)
  • Location of smoke detectors


Your plan may look good on paper, but will it really work? Regular drills allow you to test your plan and adjust it as needed. Practice using alternate escape routes. Children should practice getting out of windows (only while under a parent's/guardian's supervision).


If you hear the smoke detector, smell smoke, or someone is shouting fire:

  • Crawl to the door on your hands and knees, not on your stomach. Smoke and gases rise to the ceiling and the air is safer close to the floor.
  • Feel the door before opening it. If it's cool, brace yourself against it and open it carefully. If you notice smoke or heat, close it immediately.
  • Use an alternate exit (a second way out, such as the window, if possible) if the door is hot or smoke comes through it.
  • Signal for help by waving a sheet or any light colored clothing if you cannot escape through the window.
  • Go to your family meeting place in front and away from your home to check that everyone got out and to meet the fire department.
  • Never go back into a burning building. Tell firefighters immediately if someone is left in the building.
  • Seek medical help for burns and other injuries.


Certain people face greater risks during a fire. You may need to make special arrangements for:

  • Infants/Children
  • Elderly People
  • Hearing Impaired
  • Visually Impaired
  • Mentally Retarded
  • Physically Handicapped


Would you know what to do if fire broke out in your home? The experts at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) want you to think about that now, before fire strikes, so you'll be prepared. The nonprofit membership organization recommends that every household develop a fire escape plan and practice it at least twice a year. To see how much you know about escaping from fire, take this quiz (answers below).


1. A fire escape plan should include knowing two ways out of
A. the neighborhood B. the kitchen C. the basement D. all of the above

2. Who should participate in developing and practicing the plan?
A. parents only B. children only C. entire family D. none of the above

3. If fire breaks out, I should immediately
A. call an ambulance B. call the fire department and then escape C. turn off the electricity D. escape and call the fire department from a neighbor's telephone

4. Its OK to use an elevator to escape from a fire in a multi-story building.
A. true B. false

5. If someone is trapped inside a burning building, it is best to
A. send the strongest person back in to find them B. inform fire fighters where you think the person is C. go back in yourself D. assume they'll get out on their own

6. Which of the following time segments accounts for the largest number of home fire deaths?
A. midnight to 4 a.m. B. 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. C. noon to 6 p.m. D. 6 p.m. to midnight

7. If you have to escape through an area with smoke in it, the best thing to do is
A. stop, drop, and roll B. wait to be rescued C. retreat into a closet D. crawl low, under the smoke

8. If the smoke detector awakens you at night and you think there's a fire outside your bedroom, you should pull open the door and race out.
A. true B. false

9. In a fire, it's wise to take time to get dressed and gather valuables before escaping.
A. true B. false

10. If your clothing ever catches on fire, you should
A. run to the bathtub or shower B. sit still and yell for help C. stop, drop, and roll D. put baking soda on it

11. If trapped on the third floor of a house, it is best to
A. jump B. break the window C. wait to be rescued D. throw pieces of furniture out to get attention

12. You should know two ways out from every room
A. at home B. at work C. at friends' homes D. all of the above

National Fire Protection * One Batterymarch Park * Quincy, MA 02269-9101


  1. D. All the answers are right. Every escape plan should include knowing two ways out of every room, in case your primary exit is bloced by smoke or fire. When developing your escape plan, be sure to check all exits to see that you can actually get out. Burglar bars without quick release devices, windows painted or bolted shut, furniture blocking doors, etc., are all dangerous fire hazards that should be corrected immediately. For homes built in the wildland/urban interface, it is also important to know two escape routes from your home. In case one road is blocked by traffic or homes built in the wildland/urban interface, it is also important to know two escape routes from your home, in case one road is blocked by traffic or fire.
  2. C. Everyone in the household should participate in developing the home fire escape plan, including little ones. Here's how: Draw a floor plan of your home and show two ways out of every room and a meeting place outside. Then walk through your home and make sure all the doors and windows are clear and open easily. Practice your escape plan, trying all possible exits at least twice a year. If there are very old, very young, or physically impaired people in your family, try to locate their sleeping rooms on the lowest level and plan to have a family member assist them with their escape.
  3. D. If fire breaks out, leave the building immediately and be sure everyone else inside does the same. Once safely outside, call the fire department from a neighbor's home or use a call box, and stay out.
  4. B. False. Never use an elecator during a fire. Elecators could be trapped in between floors or even take you where the fire is and stall. Use stairways for fire escape.
  5. B. Never go back inside a burning building. If you think someone is trapped inside, immediately inform the fire department or tell fire fighters on the scene where you think the person can be found. Fire fighters are trained and equipped to safely perform rescues. It is very dangerous to go inside a burning building if you are unprotected by the proper clothing and breathing apparatus or if you are untrained in fire rescues.
  6. A. Roughly three out of every ten home fire deaths occur in the hours of midnight to 4 a.m. when most people are asleep. This time is one of the lowest-frequency periods for home fires, but because fires can develop undetected, an ealy morning fire is especially likely to be fatal. The underscores the importance of installing smoke detectors on every level of your home, including the basement. They can give you advance warning of a fire and provide extra time to escape.
  7. D. In a fire, smoke is heated and rises. It fills the room from the ceiling down. If you encounter smoke or flames on your way out, turn around and use your alternate exit. If you must escape through smoke, crouch or crawl under the smoke, keeping your head about 12-24 inches off the floor. This is the safety zone, where the air will be cooler and cleaner.
  8. B. This is false. Before you open the door, kneel or crouch and put the back of your hand up high against the door, the know, and the crack between the door and the door frame. If the door feels hot, it means there is fire on the other side and you should use your alternate exit. If the door feels cool, slowly open it with your shoulder braced in case you have to slam it shut. If all is clear, escape carefully, closing doors behind you as you go.
  9. B. False! There is no time to do anything but get out of the burning building and yell for others to do the same. Real fires are nothing like what we see on television and in the movies. In a real fire it is hot, dark, smokey and noisy. You may only have a very few moments to escape safely, so know before you have a fire two ways out of every room and be sure windows and doors open easily and are clear at all times.
  10. C. Stop, Drop, and Roll is the phrase to remember if your clothing should catch on fire. Running will only fan the flames and increase your chance of greater injury. Here's what to do: Stop right where you are, drop to the ground and cover your face with your hands if you can, and roll over and over to extinguish the flames. If someone else's clothing catches on fire and you are unable to convince them to stop, drop, and roll, try to knock them to the ground, then smother the flames with a rug, heavy coat or other large covering that can be used to extinguish the flames.
  11. C. Generally, it is not a good idea to break the window, as falling glass can harm people outside and damage fire hoses. It is dangerous to jump from a window higher than the second story. Ideally, you should have a safe escape means from rooms on the second or third stories, such as laboratory approved fire escape ladders. If you are trapped and it is dangerous to jump, close the door and cover the cracks to keep smoke out. Call the fire department and tell them your location, or signal at the window with a light-colored cloth. If the window opens, crack it at the top and bottom to let fresh air in and smoke out. Be prepared to shut the window quickly if smoke is drawn in. Try to stay calm and breath normally while you await rescue.
  12. D. You should know two ways out of every room wherever you are. Always be aware of your surroundings and know how you would get out in an emergency. Look for exit sings when you are in restaurants, cinemas, malls, etc., and make a mental note how you would escape. Be sure exit doors are not blocked or padlocked, and if they are, get out and report it to the local fire department. When staying with friends, ask them what their escape plan is and familiarize yourself with exits. At work, participate in fire drills and count the number of desks or doors between your work area and the two nearest exits. If you have to escape in darkness or smoke, you can count your way to safety.