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West Virginia Fire Safety Resource

e-Guide Index - Home Escape Planning
Have a Family Escape Plan > Know When to Go > After a Fire

Have a Family Escape Plan

In the event of a fire every second counts. Have an escape plan in place and practice it every six months.

To get you started on this process we have provided a step-by-step Home Escape Plan.

Sit down with family and/or caregivers and make up a floor plan of your home.

Schedule a meeting of everyone in your household and make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes and be sure that they are clear, no furniture or items blocking exit doors or stairways.

Identify two ways out of each room.

Households with children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. Also, mark the location of each smoke alarm.

For easy planning, visit the National Fire Protection Association's Web site [] and search for "escape planning grid". Drawing out a plan is a great way to get children involved in fire safety in a non-threatening way.

Install quick release for security bars

Security bars may help to keep your family safe from intruders, but they can also trap you in a deadly fire. Install quick release devices on windows and doors so they can be opened immediately in an emergency. Make sure everyone in the household practices how to properly operate and open locked or barred doors and windows.

The quick release devices should be easy to open without the use of a key, detailed knowledge or great physical effort. Contact your local fire department on a non-emergency number for information on approved release devices available in your area.

Decide on a meeting place outside the home - then take attendance.

Designate a meeting location away from the home, but not necessarily across the street. For example, meet under a specific tree or at the end of the driveway or front sidewalk to make sure everyone has gotten out safely and no one will be hurt looking for someone who is already safe. Designate one person to go to a neighbor's home to phone the fire department.

Seal yourself in for safety

In some cases, smoke or fire may prevent you from exiting your residence. To prepare for an emergency like this, practice "sealing yourself in for safety" as part of your home fire escape plan.

Close all doors between you and the fire. Use duct tape or towels to seal the door cracks and cover air vents to keep smoke from coming in. If possible, open your windows at the top and bottom so fresh air can get in.

If there is a phone you can use, remember to call the fire department to report your exact location. Wave a flashlight or light-colored cloth at the window to let the fire department know where you are located.

Prepare for everyone's needs

Children, older people and people with disabilities will need help escaping a fire. Plan for this. Know who needs help and pick someone in the household to help them.

Special needs - don't isolate yourself

Contact the local fire department for advice on creating an escape plan and request emergency responders keep your needs on file so that they will be prepared should you need their help.

Practice the plan twice a year

Everyone in the household must understand the escape plan. When you walk through your plan, check to make sure the escape routes are clear and doors and windows can be opened easily.

Closing doors on your way out slows the spread of fire, giving you more time to safely escape.

Know Your Abilities

Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility. Fire stops with you.

Learn More

For more information on this and other suggestions for fire safety planning, visit the Special Needs section of the Fire Safety skills training class on this Web.

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