In less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for a house to fill with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames.
If there is a fire in your home or building you should leave immediately. Do not waste any time saving property.
Check closed doors for heat before you open them by using the back of your hand to feel the top of the door, the doorknob, and the crack between the door and door frame before you open it. Never use the palm of your hand or fingers to test for heat – burning those areas could impair your ability to escape a fire (i.e., ladders and crawling).
Do not open a Hot Door. Escape through a window. If you cannot escape, hang a white or light-colored sheet outside the window, alerting fire fighters to your presence.
If the door feels cool, brace your shoulder against the door and open it slowly. If heat and smoke come in, slam the door and make sure it is securely closed, then use your alternate escape route such as a window. If clear, leave immediately through the door and close it behind you.
- Crawl low under any smoke to your exit – heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling. The air is clearer and cooler near the floor.
- Keep your mouth covered. The toxic gases from the smoke can disorient you.
- If your clothes catch on fire, you should stop, drop, and roll – until the fire is extinguished. Running only makes the fire burn faster.
- Close doors behind you as you escape to delay the spread of the fire.
- If you are trapped in a burning building, stay near a window and close to the floor and, if possible, signal for help.
- Stay out once you are safely out. Do not reenter.
- Call 9-1-1 when you are safely out.
Information compiled from the Department of Homeland Security’s US Fire Administration and FEMA.
What to do before a fire