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Develop your home escape plan

Plan your fire escape from your home

The Calgary Fire Department (CFD) encourages all households to make an evacuation plan and practise it at least twice per year.

  • Make sure all your windows and doors can be easily opened by all members of your family. Children need to be able to open their bedroom windows and remove the screen if needed, therefore we urge all parents to show children the technique needed to open their window.
  • In basements, place furniture under the window to aid in escaping.
  • In multiple storey homes, a rescue ladder should be utilized for the second or third floor windows.
  • Children must understand the need to get out and stay out. It must be understood that once the children are outside, they are to remain outside and go to a pre-arranged meeting location (tree, light, fire hydrant, etc.) to confirm that everyone escaped from the building.

Planning and practising home fire escape plans

In a typical home fire, you many have as little as two minutes to escape from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Knowing how to use those minutes wisely can make a lifesaving difference, so be sure to plan and practise your escape.

  1. Work together with your family to plan your escape routes. That way, everyone will know how to escape in case of an emergency. If there are infants or other family members with limited mobility, assign a family member to assist them in the event of a fire.
  2. Test all smoke alarms to make sure they work. Smoke alarms should be placed on every level of the home, and in or outside all sleeping areas. (Consider installing a smoke alarm in each bedroom.) Test the alarms monthly to make sure they are in working order. Change smoke alarm batteries once a year. Replace smoke alarms 10 years old or older. Working smoke alarms ensure that members of a household will be alerted quickly if a fire begins.
  3. Check all doors and windows to make sure they open easily. Nothing should stand in the way of you and a safe, quick exit!
  4. Plan two ways out of every room of your home in case of fire. Every family member of the family must plan two ways out from their rooms: the most direct route, usually out a door, and a second route to use in case the first route is blocked by fire or smoke. Emergency escape from a second storey window may involve using a home fire safety ladder. Any practise with a ladder should be closely supervised by an adult, from a first floor window only.
  5. Are there any obstacles blocking your escape route? If possible, move them. Nothing should stand in the way of you and a safe, quick exit!
  6. Feel around the doorframe and the space between the door and frame with the back of your hand to see if it is warm. If it is warm, that means the fire is nearby. To be safe, use your second way out.
  7. If you have to escape through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees with your head one to two feet (30 to 60 cm) above the floor. The air will be cleanest, coolest, and safest there, because smoke rises.
  8. Close doors. As you exit your home, close all doors behind you to slow the spread of the fire and smoke.
  9. Choose a family meeting place outside and away from the house where everyone can meet once they are safely outside. Pick a neighbour's house, a tree, or a telephone pole. Make sure you pick a place far enough away from your home, so that no one is harmed by smoke or fire. Call the fire department to report the fire once you get safely outside. Does everyone in your family know the fire department emergency number to call once you're safely outside? Is your house number clearly visible from the street and back alley? Numbers should be a contrasting colour to the building structure (light vs. dark).
  10. Practise your escape twice a year. That way, everyone will know how to escape in case of an emergency.
  11. Remind your family to never go back into a burning building. Fire is very dangerous. Firefighters are trained and equipped to go inside a burning building - get outside safely and let them do their jobs. Your health and safety, and that of your family, are most important.

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Make Your Own Escape Plan