If a fire breaks out, it is very easy to become disoriented by smoke, flames and, sometimes, darkness. If you and your family have planned your escape and practiced the escape route, you will be better prepared when the time comes when you have to escape a fire in your home.
Draw a Floor Plan - Download Sparky's Escape Plan Grid (PDF 230 kb)
Remember: Fire is unpredictable and can block any exit path. Keep that in mind when you draw your main escape route; plan alternate escape routes out of your home. Use the following guidelines when creating your plan.
- Be thorough. Include all windows and doors, outdoor features and possible obstacles. Indicate main and alternate escape routes from each room.
- In a two-story home, plan safe escape routes through second-story windows - keep in mind that you have to get off the roof, overhang or whatever is there to the ground level. You may require an escape ladder; noncombustible ones, tested by an independent laboratory, can be purchased.
- Post your escape plan and appropriate fire department phone number in a visible place near your phone so all family members, visitors and babysitters can see it.
- Keep escape routes clear! Be sure that everyone can open the necessary doors and that stairs, halls and other passageways remain clear of clutter.
- Revise your plan as required. If an older family member moves in or someone with mobility disabilities, make sure their bedrooms are on the ground floor in a two-story home. They would have difficulty escaping from an upper floor bedroom in case of fire.
After Your Plan is Drawn:
- Walk through the main and alternate escape routes and assess each realistically. Are all exits accessible to all members of your household? Is everyone able to open all the windows and doors?
- Make sure the balconies, escape ladders and roofs required as part of an escape route can support the weight of the heaviest member of the family.
- Check for windows that are painted shut or blocked in some other way and cannot be opened. Are the screens screwed on or is there a storm window that cannot be opened from the inside?
- Security bars on windows and doors should be equipped with quick-release mechanisms everyone knows how to operate and can physically handle.
- Doors with locks or bars should open easily from the inside. Can all household members open them?
What to do after you have escaped
Plan ahead and choose a meeting spot away from the building where everyone will meet once they are out of the house. If possible, choose a place in the front of the house where the fire trucks will pull up. Mark this location on your escape plan.
Once you are out of the house, stay out!
After gathering at your meeting place and checking to see if everyone is there, send one person to call the fire department from a neighbour's home, a portable phone or a pay phone by dialling 9-1-1.
Important Note: Make sure your house number is clearly visible to the fire department in large numbers that contrast with the colour of your house. If your house is set a long distance back from the road, make sure your address is clearly marked at the end of your driveway.
Teach your children
Be sure your children know that they are to leave the house if a fire breaks out. They should know which neighbours to go to for help and report the fire from there.
Fire and smoke are frightening and the first impulse is to hide - teach your children that they have to escape a burning house and not find a place to hide.
Parents may be blocked by smoke or flames from getting to their children's bedrooms. Children should know how to escape the fire on their own.
- It is a good idea to practice your escape route at least twice a year. For best results, try an unannounced drill. Appoint a member of the family to press the smoke detector's test button and yell, "Fire! Everyone out!"
- It's not a race...make sure everyone moves quickly and calmly to the exits. Running is not necessary.
- When practicing, pretend some escape routes are blocked to change the route.
- Have people wait in their bedrooms--most fires start while people are asleep--until the alarm is set off.
- Coach your children at first, but they need to know how to escape from the house on their own.
- Everyone in the house should recognize the sound of the smoke alarm.