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Fire Escape Plan: This Info Could Save Your Life or Your Family

According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) there were 1,389,500 fires in the United States in 2011. Thirty-four percent of those were house fires and caused more than 2,500 deaths, 15,500 injuries and $9.5 billion in property damage.1 

Fire can rapidly spread though the home, leaving as little as two minutes to escape safely once an alarm sounds. In fact, recent fire research conducted by UL (Underwriters Laboratories), a global safety science company, has found fires today burn hotter and faster as a result of modern furnishings and building materials.   

It's no surprise that hotter faster burning fires significantly reduce the amount of time a family has to escape their home demonstrating the necessity of having working fire detection equipment and a practiced home fire escape plan. However, a survey conducted by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) found little more than a quarter (26 percent) of households have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.

In order to prevent potential fire disasters, UL (Underwriters Laboratories) offers insights and tips to help develop and implement a sound fire escape plans.  "Developing and also practicing a home fire escape plan with everyone in your household can mean the difference between life and death," says John Drengenberg, Consumer Safety Director for UL.

To help create a fire escape plan, UL offers the following suggestions:

  • Draw a simple floor plan of your home; marking two exits from every room (include windows)
  • Choose an outside meeting place (i.e. neighbor's house, a light post, mailbox, or stop sign) a safe distance in front of the home where everyone can meet after they've escaped. Make sure to mark the location of the meeting place on your escape plan.
  • Write "Call 911" on the escape plan and post in a central location (such as the refrigerator door) so the family can easily see and memorize it
  • Practice an escape plan at least twice a year with all household members

For more tips on making a fire escape plan, visit UL's Home Escape Plan Checklist.

In addition, UL reminds families that having a practiced fire escape plan is just one step when it comes to overall fire safety. UL recommends the use of working smoke alarms on every level of the home and in the kitchen and outside sleeping areas. If living on a multi-level home, families can consider having smoke alarms, so that when one alerts, they all alert.  For more information about choosing fire detection equipment visit  UL's Smoke Alarm Tips.

1 NFPA  survey - & Reports/Fact sheets/Escape planning

See also: 7 Days to a Safer Home Checklist