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Escape Route Planning

Imagine that it is 3:00 A.M., you’re asleep at home, and the alarms on your smoke detectors go off. As you jump from bed, the smell of smoke is in the air. If a similar situation occurs in your home, do all of your family members know what to do? If not, a life could easily be lost. Consider these startling facts:

  • In a typical home fire, the occupants only have about two or three minutes to get out.
  • Some people panic and become confused, especially children.
  • Many young children die in fires because they try to hide from smoke and flames.

Those are just a few of the reasons why it’s critical to create an escape plan for your family. Getting everyone out of the home immediately is a matter of life and death.

An evacuation plan includes identifying all exits, determining escape routes, and choosing a safe place to meet outside of your home. Everyone in your household needs to understand the plan and practice it.

Follow this checklist when planning your escape route: 

  • Preparation – Begin by inspecting your home’s exit points and escape routes. Windows and doors should be easy to open from the inside and allow for escape. Make repairs or modifications if needed, and eliminate obstacles in escape routes. If you have a two-level home, consider purchasing escape ladders for rooms on the second level.
  • Family Meeting – Get everyone in the family together for a meeting. Stress the importance of an escape plan, and discuss how your plan will work.
  • Floor Plan Diagram – Draw a diagram of the home’s floor plan. A diagram is especially important to help young children learn. Identify at least two exits for each room, and draw lines for escape routes. Identify where smoke detectors are located. Display a copy of the escape route where children may refer to it in a hurry, such as on the back of their bedroom doors.
  • Walk Through – As a family, walk through the home and discuss all exits and escape routes. Make sure children understand where to go.
  • Choose a Meeting Place – Decide on a place where everyone will meet after getting out. It should be in front of the home and a safe distance from it. Examples include a neighbor’s house, next to a street sign, light pole, or mailbox. Make sure family members understand that once they leave the burning home, they can’t go back in for any reason. If someone is missing, tell the fire dispatcher or firefighters.
  • Practice Make sure to practice the evacuation plan so children know what to do. It is then wise to hold practice fire drills at night twice a year. Inform children before they go to bed about the drill so they are not frightened.
  • Evacuating the Home – If a fire does occur, and if there is a choice, choose the safest escape route with the least smoke or heat. But be ready to exit through smoke if necessary. If smoke is present in the air, it may be necessary to crawl out on hands and knees.

© 2020 The GuideOne Center for Risk Management, LLC. All rights reserved.This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.