Escaping a house fire

Tips to escape a house fire

A home fire is nothing anyone expects to happen to them, but if disaster strikes, you’ll be glad you prepared. Data show that while the percentage of home fires in the U.S. is decreasing, the percentage of deaths caused by those fires is increasing. Preparing for the worst is important for your family’s safety.

Before a fire

  • Create an escape plan. It’s important to know how to escape a fire from anywhere in your house. Learn two ways out of every room in your home in case an exit is blocked or dangerous to use. For homes that have two stories, having an escape ladder in upstairs rooms is another way to get out if you find yourself trapped upstairs.
  • Have functioning safety equipment. Proper safety equipment can significantly increase your chances of surviving a potentially deadly home fire. You should have working smoke detectors on every level of your home (including the basement) and replace the batteries in every unit at least once a year. Also keep a Class ABC (multipurpose) fire extinguishers in your home and make sure to maintain them.

During a fire

  • Get low. If a fire breaks out, drop to the floor and crawl low toward your exit. A majority of fire-related deaths are from inhalation of the toxic gases and heavy smoke, which collect first along the ceiling.
  • Door safety. When fleeing a fire, before opening a door, check to see if there’s smoke coming from underneath it or if the doorknob is hot. If either of these danger signs is present, leave the door closed and use your second way out.
  • Call 9-1-1. If you’re trapped with no way out, close the room’s door and cover vents and the cracks at the door bottom to prevent smoke from coming in. Call 9-1-1 and tell them where you are and, if possible, signal for help out of a window.
  • Stop, drop, and roll. If your clothes catch fire, stop immediately, drop to the ground, cover your face with your hands, and roll back and forth until the fire is out. If you or someone else cannot stop, drop, and roll, smother the flames with a blanket or towel. Use cool water to treat the burn immediately for three to five minutes. Cover with a clean, dry cloth. Get medical help right away by calling 9-1-1.

Read about how to help prevent a house fire in our Home Safety, Tips, and Resources archive.

 For more information, go to


The information included here was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company and its employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with any training, materials, suggestions, or information provided. It is the user’s responsibility to confirm compliance with any applicable local, state, or federal regulations. Information obtained from or via Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company should not be used as the basis for legal advice or other advice, but should be confirmed with alternative sources.