Beyond having smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home, it’s also essential to have an escape plan in case of an emergency. Everyone in your household should help make the plan and practice it regularly. As part of your escape planning process, be sure to know if you live in a fire proof or non-fire proof building. Knowing if a structure is fire proof or non-fire proof will help you determine if you should stay or go depending on the circumstances of the fire in your building. Always listen to instructions from the Fire Department emergencies.


Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits. Be sure all escape routes and hallways are clear of clutter and storage. Consider drawing a floor plan of your home and mapping two ways out for each sleeping area. If you live in an apartment building with three or more units, review its fire safety plan.

  • Teach everyone in your home how to unlock and open windows, doors and all security devices.
  • Remind everyone to close doors behind them as they exit.
  • Designate family members responsible for waking children or older adults.
  • Agree on a meeting place outside your home.
  • Stress the importance of calling 911 once in a safe location.


Make household drills realistic. Since most fires happen overnight, start drills in sleeping areas and darken your home as if it is smoke filled.

  • Begin the drill with the sound of the smoke alarm.
  • Practice escaping through smoke by crawling low on hands and knees.
  • Follow your escape plan from the beginning all the way through to a your assigned meeting place outside your home.

Escape Planning Exercise

Using graph paper (download below) draw a floor plan for each level of your home. Your drawing should include all windows, doors, fire escapes and stairwells. Label all sleeping areas and draw arrows showing escape options.