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A Home Escape Plan Is Essential

While the number of U.S. home fires has continued to decline over time, the home fire death rate has stagnated in recent years, with annual spikes like the most recent one seen in 2021.

“The latest number of home fire deaths reinforces that today’s home fires present real challenges,” says Lorraine Carli, VP of the Outreach and Advocacy division at NFPA.

According to NFPA data, home — the place people feel safest from fire — is actually where they are at greatest risk, with three-quarters (75 percent) of all U.S. fire deaths occurring in homes. Where people used to have more than 10 minutes to escape a typical home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds, today they may have as little as two minutes.

Multiple factors contribute to this much smaller window of escape time, including the way newer homes tend to be constructed and the fact that modern home furnishings are often made with synthetic materials that burn faster and generate toxic smoke, making it extremely difficult to see and breathe.

“To many, the concepts of home escape planning and practice may sound so simple that their value is underestimated, but the reality is that these advance preparations can truly mean the difference between life and death in a home fire – now more than ever,” says Carli. “Ask anyone who’s experienced a home fire and they will tell you how dark, scary, and disorienting a home fire can become within moments. Having a practiced plan with all members of the household builds the muscle memory needed to get out as quickly and safely as possible.”

Create Your Home Escape Plan:

  • Make sure your home escape plan meets the needs of all your family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed inside every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of your home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound.
  • Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows open easily.
  • Have an outside meeting place a safe distance from your home where everyone should meet.
  • Practice your home fire drill at least twice a year with everyone in the household, including guests. Practice at least once during the day and at night. (

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