Think about the building you’re currently in right now. You probably leave this building the same way whenever you exit. But, if that way was blocked, would you know where to go? How would you feel if you weren’t sure where to go to get out? Most likely, that feeling would be unsettling, and especially in the event of an emergency like a fire. When the smoke alarm sounds, you don’t want to feel that way—you want to have a plan.

The National Fire Protection Association says:

“Fire escape plans are important for all homes. Whether your building has one floor or 50, it is important that you and your family are ready to respond to a fire alarm. Everyone needs to know what to do and where to go if there is a fire…People often get nervous if there is an emergency but if you make a plan and practice it, then you will know exactly what to do if there is a fire.”

Now that we are spending more time at home than ever, now is a perfect time to work together with those you live with to create a fire escape plan and memorize it (or review it if you already have one!). Here is what you need to know in order to make your plan:

  • Two ways out of every room in your apartment/home.

  • Locations of all available exit stairs from your floor.

  • Locations of all available exits in your building

  • Location of an outside meeting place where everyone will meet. An outside meeting place should be a safe distance in front of your building.

For those who live in an apartment building, the following information is especially important to keep in mind:

“Many buildings have an evacuation plan. The plan should show what the residents are supposed to do if there is an emergency. It should be posted in places where everyone can see and review it. The building management should have a fire drill with residents at least once a year. Be sure to take part in your building fire drills. Sometimes the safest thing to do is to shelter in place. Some building plans require residents to go to a specific spot in the building and wait for help. It is important for all residents to know where those assigned waiting spots are.”  Also, remember to “use the stairs to get out. You should never use the elevator unless you are directed to by the fire department. Make sure to practice using the stairs as part of your escape plan. If someone in your family has difficulty climbing down steps, make sure to include a contingency for this into your plan.”

We hope that you will take some time to create a fire escape plan or review yours if you already have one. As we’ve all learned during this pandemic, preparation is so important and can make all the difference when an unexpected event occurs. We hope you and your families are continuing to stay safe and healthy during this time!