Home Fires happen unexpectedly, and many times in the middle of the night when family is sleeping. That's why it's important to have a fire escape plan in place. If a fire breaks out you'll need to react from practice, not panic. Make a rough sketch of your home's floor plan and follow these tips:

Schedule home fire drills often

  • Practice family fire drills so no one is confused about what to do.
  • Plan at least two different escape routes from each room and designate a meeting place outside your home, such as the mailbox.
  • Assign someone to help young and elderly people. Instruct children they must get outside. Teach them the worst thing they can do is hide in closets or under beds.

Keep fire extinguishers handy

  • Store a multi-purpose fire extinguisher in the kitchen and another one near your furnace to be used to quickly douse a fire before it gets out of control.
  • Make sure they're dry-chemical extinguishers, suitable for class A, B and C fires. Teach all family members how to operate them.
  • Always keep extinguishers recharged and ready to use.

Prepare your windows for fast escape

  • Remove any installation clips from the outside of your windows. Your home should have two exterior doors and a quick-exit window in each bedroom.
  • To exit from a window, slide it up or sideways and remove the screen. Kick the screen out if you need to.
  • If your home has crank-out style jalousie or awning quick-exit windows, remove the interior storm sash by turning the pivot clips. Trip the exit latches at the window sill and slide the window open. Or, open it at the hinges and make your exit. If there's no trip latch on the window or no time to open it, break it with a chair, lamp or shoe and get out. Watch out for sharp glass.

Take action if a fire strikes

  • If you can douse a fire quickly using your extinguisher, go ahead. Otherwise, don't try to fight your own fire. Leave immediately and call for help from a neighbor's home.
  • Crawl to the nearest safe exit because the clearest air is 12 to 24 inches above the floor.
  • Carefully touch the bottom of all doors before opening them. If they're hot, don't open them. Find another way out.
  • Remember the stop, drop and roll rule: Stop if your clothes catch fire, drop to the ground, cover your face with your hands to protect your face and lungs, and roll until you smother the flames.

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