Safety Tips

Closed Doors Protect You

Even a lightweight hollow-core door delays a fire. Some parents argue that they prefer to leave their bedroom doors open at night so they can hear their children, but slowing the spread of fire to sleeping areas gives everyone more time to escape. For the same reason, you should close doors behind you along your escape route as you leave your home during a fire.

Whether bedroom doors are open or closed, everyone should be able to hear the smoke alarms near his or her sleeping area. If family members sleep with the doors closed, install interconnected smoke alarms inside each bedroom so when one sounds, they all sound.

Test Doors Before Opening

You can be overcome by heat, smoke, or flames rushing into a room when you open a door to an area where a fire has spread. During a fire, before opening any doors along your escape route, feel the door. If the door is hot, use an alternate escape route.  If the door is cool, put your shoulder against the door and open it slowly with extreme caution. A fire that has died down for lack of oxygen can flare up when a supply of fresh air rushes through the door you open. If heat or smoke enters the room, slam the door and make sure it is closed securely. If you are trapped, seal the edges of the door with towels, rags, or duct tape to prevent smoke from entering the room.

Escape Through Windows

If your primary exit is blocked by fire or smoke, your secondary exit will probably be a window. Before opening a window during a fire, be sure the door to the room is closed tight. The draft created by opening a window could bring fire and smoke into the room. If you are on the first floor, you can probably drop safely to the ground from your window. Back out, feet first, on your stomach.  Hold onto the window sill with both hands, lowering yourself as far as possible. Then drop to the ground, bending your knees to cushion your landing.

You can lower small children from windows, if there are people outside to break the child's fall. If not, lower the child as far as possible without risking falling out yourself and then drop the child to the ground.

Do not go out a window first and expect a child to follow you. If he or she refuses to jump, there may be no way you can get back inside to help. If a second or third story window is used to escape consider getting an escape ladder.  Practice deploying it during your fire drill, but do not climb down it during the drill- you could be hurt in a fall.

If You Are Trapped

If your window is above the first story, you should not drop to the ground. Unless you have an escape ladder or can climb down a balcony, porch, tree, or garage, wait at the window for the fire department to rescue you. If possible, open the window a few inches at the top and bottom. Fresh air will enter at the bottom, and smoke will leave through the top. But if the open window is drawing smoke into the room from any source, close the window tight.

Stuff clothes towels in the cracks under the door, or seal around it with duct tape, to keep smoke from entering the room. If there is a working phone in the room, call the fire department and tell the dispatcher where you are. The information will be relayed to the fire fighters at the fire scene. Stay at the window and wave a flashlight or a white cloth, such as a towel or sheet, to help the fire fighters find you.

Get Low & Go

During a fire, superheated air and smoke fill the room from the top down. Some poisonous smoke may settle in a layer near the floor. If you encounter smoke during your escape from a fire, turn around and use an alternate route. If you must exit through a smoky area, get low and go under the smoke to your exit.

Stop, Drop & Roll If Your Clothes Catch on Fire

If your clothing starts to burn, stop where you are. Don't run, the air rushing by you will fan the fire. Drop to the ground. Cover your face with your hands. Roll over and over to smother the flames.

Have everyone in the family, including children practice this lifesaving method.

If someone else's clothes catch fire, you may have to help them. If they do not drop to the ground by themselves, tackle them or knock them down and make them roll over and over. Or, throw a heavy blanket or rug over the person to smother the flames.

First-Aid for Burns

Treat burns immediately. Learn to identify the three types of burns.

  1. First-degree burns (reddened skin) are minor and heal quickly.
  2. Second-degree burns (blistered skin) are serious injuries that require immediate first aid and professional treatment.
  3. Third-degree burns (white, brown, or charred tissue, often surrounded by blisters; are severe injuries and require emergency professional medical treatment.

For first-degree and second-degree burns, cool the burned area with cool water for 3 to 5 minutes. This will lower the victim's skin temperature, stop the burning process, numb the pain, and reduce swelling. Do not apply ice.

Cool third-degree burns only with wet sterile dressings until medical help arrives. Lay the victim flat on his or her back and remove burned clothing that isn't stuck to the victim's skin. Remove jewelry and tight clothing from around the burned area before swelling sets in. Elevate burned areas.