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Home Fire Escape Planning

Smoke Alarm Installation

Fire can spread quickly, leaving you as little as two minutes to escape after the smoke alarm sounds. People are often confused about what to do during a fire. Infants, children, older adults, and people with disabilities may be at greater risk because of their inability to escape quickly or on their own.

Many fire injuries and deaths occur when residents attempt to fight a home fire, when exits are not defined, or when they are blocked.

While the instinct to save your home and belongings is understandable, attempting to fight a fire is dangerous and can cost you your life. When the smoke alarm sounds, the best plan is to get out quickly and call 911.

Prepare, Act, Survive

Installing smoke alarms, having a home fire escape plan, and practicing the plan can help reduce the risk for the whole family. Below are tips on how to prepare to get you and your family out safely in case of a fire.

Step 1: Make sure you have working smoke alarms

  • Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, outside sleeping areas (hallway), and in each bedroom. Sleep with your bedroom doors closed. A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
  • Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of a working smoke alarm.
  • If you don't have working smoke alarms, contact your local fire agency or the American Red Cross at or 503-528-5783.

Step 2: Create a home fire escape plan

  • Make a home fire escape plan and involve all of your family in developing it. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Draw a map of each level of your home that shows all doors and windows. Identify two ways out of every room, and two ways out of your home. Make sure everyone in the home (including visitors) knows the plan.
  • Keep exit routes, including windows, clear of furniture, toys, etc. to allow access to escape. Make sure all doors and windows that lead to the outside open easily.
  • Identify an outside meeting place a safe distance in front of the home such as a tree, light pole, or mailbox. Make sure everyone knows where the meeting place is and to go there if the smoke alarm sounds.
  • Make sure your house number can easily be seen from the street during the day and night so firefighters can find your home quickly.

Step 3: Practice your home fire escape plan

  • Practice your home fire escape plan at least two times a year at different times of the day/night.
  • Smoke is dangerous; teach children to crawl low on their hands and knees under the smoke until they get out.
  • Children, older adults, and people with disabilities may need assistance to wake up and get out. Ensure that someone will help them.
  • When the smoke alarm sounds, get out. Close the doors behind you as you exit. Call 911 from outside your home. Once out, stay out.