Every second counts when you are trying to escape a fire. Develop and practice a home fire escape plan with everyone in your household.

On this page:

  1. Plan a route
  2. Apartment escape planning

Plan a route

To ensure your family has an escape route in an emergency situation, plan two ways out of each room:

  • identify your primary (first way out) and secondary (second way out) exits (the first way out should be using a normal way out such as the front or back door, and the second way out could be a window)
  • choose an outside meeting place (examples: neighbour's front yard, a fire hydrant, a light post, mailbox or stop sign) a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they've escaped
  • mark the meeting place on your escape plan
  • make sure windows can be opened easily
  • plan your escape in a two-storey home through a window onto a roof or porch
  • ensure everyone knows how to use an escape ladder, if you must use one for your escape plan
  • practice your plan twice a year

If you see smoke around your primary escape route, use your secondary exit. If you must escape through smoke, get low and go beneath the smoke.

Once you're out, stay out! Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. If someone is missing, inform the fire department dispatcher when you call. Firefighters have the skills and equipment to perform rescues.

Apartment escape planning

If you live in an apartment, remember these tips for exiting your building during a fire or emergency:

  • always use the stairs, never use an elevator in case of a fire
  • do not use elevators even if they appear to be working (when the alarm sounds, elevators may be grounded and in control of the responding firefighters)

If fire or smoke blocks your exit, protect yourself and your family in place by:

  • closing your apartment door, but do not lock it
  • covering all cracks where smoke could enter using wet towels or tape
  • calling 911 even if firefighters are already onsite and telling them the number of your apartment
  • waving a sheet or towel from the window to help firefighters locate you
  • trying to stay calm and listening for instructions from fire personnel