SURVIVING A FIRE
Thousands of Americans die in home and building fires
each year, but most of these deaths could be avoided.
Make sure your family knows simple fire-prevention rules
and what to do if fire does strike.
Most fire victims die from inhaling smoke and poisonous
gases, not from burns. If you know how to recognize danger
signs and how to act appropriately, you will increase
your chances of getting safely out of a burning building.
Planning for a Fire
* Have a plan set in advance. All rooms in your house should
have two means of escape. Draw a picture showing the escape
routes for every room and explain it to everyone.
* Upper floor windows should have hook-on fire escape
ladders or rope ladders.
* Assign one older person to be responsible for each child.
Plan on a meeting place outside.
* Have practice fire drills every three months, especially
if there are small children or disabled persons in your home.
Some of your drills should take place at night.
* All members of the family should know how to call
911 to give the address and tell the dispatcher that
there is a fire.
If a Smoke Detector Alarms
* Act immediately but try to stay calm. To waken anyone who
may still be asleep, shout, “Fire! Everyone out!” Don’t waste
time getting dressed or searching for valuables. Once outside
the house, do not go back in.
* Sleep with bedroom doors closed. Doors offer protection from
heat and smoke and slow a fire’s progress. If in your escape you
must go from room to room, close each door behind you.
* Feel every door before opening it. Place the back of your hand
on the crack between the door and the door frame; if it’s hot, do
not open the door. Even if the door is cool, open it cautiously.
Stay low in case smoke or toxic fumes are seeping around the door.
If heat and smoke come in, slam the door tightly and use your
alternate way out.
* If you use a window for your escape, be sure the door(s) in the
room is closed tightly. Otherwise, the draft from the open window
may draw smoke and fire into the room.
* If you must go through smoke, crawl under it on your hands
and knees. However, do not crawl on your belly, because some
heavier toxic gases settle in a thin layer on the floor.
* If you are unable to escape from a room because of a fire on
the other side of the door, stuff clothing, towels, or newspapers
in the door’s cracks to keep smoke out of your refuge.
* Remember “STOP, DROP, ROLL” if your clothing catches fire.
The moment it happens, stop where you are. Drop to the ground,
and cover your mouth and face with your hands to protect them
from the flames. Then roll over and over to smother the flames.
High Rise Apartments
If you live in a high rise apartment there are a few added
things you should know in case there is a fire in your building:
* Learn your building’s evacuation plans. Know the location of
fire alarms, and learn how to use them. Post emergency fire
department numbers near all telephones.
* If you hear instructions on your building’s public-address
system, listen carefully and do just as you’re told.
* Never take an elevator when leaving a burning building.
Instead, go directly to the nearest fire- and smoke-free stairway.
* If you cannot get to a fire stairway, go to a room with an
* If there is a working phone, call the fire department emergency
number and tell the dispatcher where you are. Do this even if you
can see fire trucks on the street below.
* Stay where rescuers can see you through the window, and wave
a light-colored cloth such as a hand towel to attract
* If possible, open the window at the top and bottom. Be ready
to shut the window quickly if smoke rushes in.
* You may need to be patient; the rescue of occupants of a
high-rise building can take several hours.