Fire Prevention Week
How to make sure everyone can escape
Today’s homes burn faster than ever. You may have as little as two minutes (or even less time) to safely escape a home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Your ability to get out of a home during a fire depends on early warning from smoke alarms and advance planning.
- Draw a map of your home using this template, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors, and a path to the outside from each exit.
- Children, older adults, and people with disabilities may need assistance to wake up and get out. Make sure they are part of the plan.
- Have working smoke alarms in each bedroom and test them every month. To learn how to properly test your smoke alarm, visit our smoke alarm safety page.
- Make sure all escape routes are clear and that doors and windows open easily.
- Pick an outside meeting place (something permanent like a neighbour’s house, a light post, mailbox or tree) that is a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet.
- Everyone in the home should know how to call 9-1-1 once they are safely outside, using a neighbours’ phone or a mobile phone.
- Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building for anything. Tell the firefighters when they arrive and they will do their best to get pets or special belongings out of your home.
Practice your home escape plan at least twice a year and teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them. Practice day and nighttime home fire drills and don’t forget to share your home escape plans with overnight guests.
Purchase a home escape ladder
If one of your escape routes has you going out a second or third story window, then you should have a home escape ladder.
Home escape ladders can be purchased at your local hardware stores.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the home escape ladders can be used on your windowsill. It is important to have and know how to use a home escape ladder, but the ladder should never be used or climbed on unless a real emergency is present.
If you don’t have a home escape ladder or it’s unsafe to use:
- Keep the door closed and use any blankets, towels or clothing to block the space under the door to keep smoke from entering the room.
- Go to the window, open it and make lots of noise to let people know you’re trapped inside.
- If you have a mobile phone, call 9-1-1 and let them know where you are. Continue to make noise and wave items such as clothing or other blankets or sheets out the window.
How to practice your home escape plan
Everyone who lives in your home should practice your home escape plan at least twice a year (ideally once in the daytime and once at night) to ensure they remember what to do if there is a fire.
When practicing your home escape plan, follow these steps:
- Start with everyone in their rooms.
- Test your smoke alarm to make sure it works and that everyone can hear it.
- Practice feeling the door with the back of your hand to see if it is warm. If it is warm, it means there is a fire nearby and you should use a different escape route.
- Practice escaping through smoke by crawling on your hands and knees with your head one or two feet (30 to 60 cm) above the floor.
- If you live on a second or third-story building, make sure to review the instructions on how to use and deploy your ladder. Please do not use the ladder unless there is an emergency.
- Have everyone meet at the meeting place identified in your family’s plan.
- Once you are safely outside, make sure everyone knows to call 9-1-1 to report a fire in your home. They should also know what information they need to provide when calling 9-1-1, such as your complete address.
- Remind everyone to never go back into a burning building.
Keep your escape routes clear.
Make sure to remove anything that may block your escape routes and keep them clear throughout the year. Be sure to check that all doors and windows open easily and that they are not blocked from the inside or outside.