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Can Your Family Safely Escape a Home Fire in Under Two Minutes?

Home fires are the nation’s most frequent disaster and claim more lives in a typical year than all natural disasters combined. Yet, most of us don’t realize we may have just two minutes to escape, according to an American Red Cross survey.

You can help protect you and your family by taking two simple steps: practice your two-minute home fire escape drill and test your smoke alarms monthly. Working smoke alarms are critical because they can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half.

Practice your two-minute escape fire drill

  • Create a plan with at least two ways to exit every room in your home. 
  • Select a meeting spot at a safe distance away from your home, such as your neighbor’s home or landmark like a specific tree in your front yard, where everyone knows to meet.
  • Practice until everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes.
  • In addition, take time to discuss the plan with everyone in your household, including to stay low from rising smoke and touch closed doors with the back of your hand. If the doorknob is hot, it’s not safe to open that door.
  • Also teach household members to stop, drop and roll if their clothes catch fire. 

Test your smoke alarms monthly

  • Place smoke alarms on each level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas.
  • After pressing the alarm’s test button, you should hear three beeps, letting you know the alarm is working. Don’t hear them? Change the batteries, which should be done at least once a year if your model requires it.
  • Check the manufacturer’s date of your smoke alarms. If they’re 10 years or older, they likely need to be replaced. Follow your alarm’s manufacturer instructions.
  • Teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like. Talk about fire safety and what to do in an emergency.

Remember, if a fire occurs, get out, stay out, and call 911 for help. Never go back inside for anything or anyone.

Visit redcross.org/fire for more information, including an escape plan worksheet to create with your family. You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency app (search “American Red Cross” in mobile app stores).

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