According to the U.S. Fire Administration, fires kill 3,500 Americans each year. While this statistic is tragic, what’s worse is that most of these deaths could have been prevented through fire safety.

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According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), one of the leading causes of death during fires is failed emergency escapes. When a fire breaks out, a small flame can become a major fire in less than 30 seconds. Time is a major factor during fires and with an emergency evacuation plan, you have the power to save lives! So get to it and follow these simple steps for creating an emergency evacuation plan for your home. Just make sure to do it before a fire!

Download Protect America’s Home Fire Escape Plan

1. Plan Your Evacuation with Your Family

Before creating an emergency evacuation plan, you need to get organized first. Draw a diagram of your home. Remember to include all doors and windows. Plan two different exit strategies for every room of the house. Make alternate exit routes! This is very important because a fire can obstruct any given route. Once you have made a map with various exit strategies, make copies of it. Give a copy to every family member and even post it on the refrigerator or a central location within the home. Study it. Planning for the worst is definitely the best practice when planning for a fire.

2. Practice Your Evacuation

There’s a reason for the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” In this specific scenario, you want to be a close to perfect as you can because there is life and death involved! You’ll need to practice your evacuation plan with every member of your family. Don’t forget to teach any children that live in your house. Children as young as 3 years old can be taught emergency evacuation plans. The USFA recommends practicing your evacuation plan from every room in the house, so you can be prepared whenever a fire breaks out.

3. Establish a Meeting Area Outside the Home

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Designate a specific place away from the home where everyone knows to meet. This location should be a landmark that’s far enough away from the home to be clear of any danger but close enough so that everyone knows exactly where it is. Additionally, be sure your children know what a firefighter looks like. Many children are afraid of firefighters. Be sure when your child sees a firefighter, they do not hide from them.

4. Eliminate Obstructions on Doors and Windows

Bars on windows and doors can be useful for preventing burglars from entering your home but such security measures can be deadly in case of a fire. Make sure any security bars you install come equipped with a release latch or some other method for quick removal.

5. Have an Emergency Escape Bag

Put together a bag with all of the essentials that you might need during and after an emergency fire escape. This bag might include the following:

  • a first aid kit
  • copies of valuable legal documents such as insurance, social security, birth certificates, titles
  • a flashlight
  • water bottles and non perishable snacks
  • medications that might be needed

Also remember that smoke detectors are extremely important to preventing fires before they get out of control. With smoke detectors, you might not need to even use your fire escape plan. However, it is always best to be prepared! Consider a monitored smoke detector from Protect America for even more coverage.

For more resources on fire escape plans and fire safety, check the following links:

United States Fire Administration Evacuation Planning Guide
Federal Emergency Management Agency