Many people wrongly assume that they’ll have plenty of time to escape from their home if they notice fire. The reality is that the modern, synthetic materials that are commonly found in most homes mean that fires burn faster than ever. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, a small flame can turn into an uncontrollable fire in less than 30 seconds.
Planning ahead for a fire can be the difference between being trapped in your home and escaping safely. Make sure to incorporate these elements into your escape plan:
- Go over how to escape each room in your home. Ideally, every room will have at least two ways to get out through a door or window.
- Don’t waste time trying to save your personal belongings. Take any important medications if they’re within arm’s reach, then immediately take the closest exit.
- Before opening a door, use the back of your hand to feel its temperature at the top, the doorknob and the crack between the frame and the door. If any of those areas feel hot, take a different route. If the door is cool, brace yourself against it and open it slowly.
- If you can’t avoid moving through smoke, crawl as low to the ground as you can and cover your mouth.
- Set a meeting place outside of your home that your family knows to gather around when they’re safe. Then, have one person go to the nearest neighbor’s house to call 911.
- Never go back into a burning building for any reason.