Every level of a building or home needs a working smoke alarm. Though hard-wired smoke alarms are more reliable, even homes with battery-operated alarms save lives, according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). In 2010, the NFPA reports the death rate is twice as much for every 100 reported home fires without alarms than those with working smoke alarms.
Know the Escape Routes
Every room needs two escape outlets in case flames block the main exit, according to the USFA. When the next best escape exit includes crawling from a window onto a roof or out a lofty window, use only laboratory-evaluated collapsible ladders by nationally recognized companies. Training for safe fire evacuation requires a minimum two active reviews a year.
While practicing fire safety routes from every room, the exercise should include rehearsing in the dark or at least with closed eyes, using hands feeling the way out. Assuring windows open easily with rapid screen removal, preparation saves valuable time in escaping a fire. Particularly important is a run-through of the removal of security bars with quick-release latches.
Beware of Hot Doors
In an actual fire, feeling for heat at the top of the door, the doorknob and the gap between door and frame means switching to the secondary escape route. Doors cool to the touch need to be opened slowly with the shoulder ready to slam the door securely shut should smoke or heat begin entering, which also signals use of an alternate escape route.
Escaping in Smoke
The best method to limit smoke inhalation, causing disorientation or unconsciousness, is crawling low along the escape route while covering the mouth. Exit quickly and never waste valuable time grabbing property.
Once everyone escapes safely, a predetermined meeting place by a tree or other familiar landmark (not necessarily across the street) away from the burning building allows for an accounting of all family members. Never go back into a burning building.
Call the fire department after escaping a burning home from a neighbor's house, using either 911 or the designated number particular to the area. Teach children that it's OK to talk to firefighters if they do not see other family members expedite rescue procedures.