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Burn Center

Safety Plan

Your home should be equipped with smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.

If you have questions about installing smoke detectors, contact your local fire department. These professionals will give you advice and offer helpful suggestions.
Make sure your smoke detectors have working batteries. Many community organizations recommend changing batteries in smoke detectors when clocks change in the fall and the spring—this makes it easier to remember and helps make sure your smoke detectors will work properly if they are ever needed.

Create an escape plan.

Carefully map out an escape route from all areas of your home, especially bedrooms. Know where the fire escape stairs are or purchase approved fire-safety ladders, if needed. Make sure all members of your household know how to safely exit your home from all areas. If there is a fire in your home, lives will depend on getting out of the building. Have fire drills and practice what everyone will do—especially children—if there is a fire in your home.

If your smoke detector sounds an alarm:

  • Don’t investigate, and don’t try to fight the fire. Get out of the building.
  • Follow the escape routes you practiced. This is where practice pays off: a real fire may include thick smoke and you might not be able to see well.
  • Crawl low to escape some of the toxic smoke and heat.
  • Feel all doors before opening. If a door is hot, do not open it — try another escape route. If a door is cool, open it slowly and check what’s on the other side before proceeding.
  • Always use a stairway. Elevator shafts may fill quickly with smoke and the power may fail, leaving you stranded.
  • Close doors behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Meet in your special safety zone. Part of your escape plan should include a location where all household members meet after leaving the building. This lets you know that everyone got out safely—and lets you alert emergency personnel if someone is still inside.

If you are trapped:

  • If you are in a room, keep the door closed and try to seal cracks if smoke enters. Use rugs, blankets or clothing—and if you’re near a bathroom, wet materials before using them to seal doors. 
  • If there is no smoke outside, open any windows.
  • Signal for help—yell or scream; if you have phone, call 911 and give as much information as you can about your location.
  • If you’re near a window, hang an object outside it to attract attention.

If someone in your home has mobility problems— for example, someone uses a wheel chair or a walker— ask your local fire department for help in planning for a fire emergency.

To learn more, visit the American Burn Association Web site at www.ameriburn.org.

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