You should be prepared for your family to escape a house fire.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, a home fire is reported to a fire department once every minute. Each year, and average of 2,600 people lose their lives and 13,000 are injured in home fires.

When a fire occurs, the only thing that matters is to safely get everyone out of your home. There are several things you can do now to prepare your home and your family from a future house fire. Most importantly: BE PREPARED.


#1 Install an Early-Warning System

Smoke detectors are the best early warning systems available and they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to install. At minimum, put one detector in a central location on each floor of your home. Ideally, put one smoke detector outside the door of each room where people sleep. Change the batteries every year – pick a date to change batteries and mark it on your calendar.

#2 Create a Fire Escape Plan

Determine multiple escape routes from every room in your house. Involve your entire family in this process so each family member is aware of the plan and contributes with questions and acknowledgement.

• Exit is Priority #1

Forget possessions and focus on people. If you’re alerted to a house fire, stop what you’re doing and get out. Don’t take time to grab belongings or call 911. You can do that from a cell phone outside or from a neighbor’s house.

• Don’t expect to use the door

In a house fire you may not be able to leave through the door. That’s why you need two ways to escape from every room. If there are two doors, practice escaping through each of them. If a door is closed, touch the surface or the knob with the back of your hand to see if it’s hot. If cool, open it slowly and check for smoke. If heat and smoke start rushing in, close the door immediately and pick another exit. If there’s just one door, you’ll have to use a window, so see where each one takes you–onto the ground, over to a roof, onto a deck or down an escape ladder.

• Learn Your Escape Routes

Know how each emergency route out of the house goes. In the chaos of a fire, it’s easy to get disoriented, particularly at night. Have all family members learn and practice the escape routes from each room, all the way to the outside.

• Choose a Meeting Place

Agree on a precise, easy-to -ind meeting place outside, where everyone can safely gather until all are accounted for. This could be in front of a neighbor’s house, at the end of the driveway or at some other location. A meeting place lets you quickly know who is safe and avoids needlessly risking injury by going back into the house looking for someone who’s already out.


#3 Escape Ladders are Important

When escaping a house fire through a window, you need a ladder above the ground floor. Every upstairs sleeping room should have an escape ladder and each family member should know how to use it.

• The basic escape ladder, which costs the least, requires you to open the window, hook it over the sill, drop the rungs and climb down to safety. Unfortunately, this type of ladder often gets put away where it’s hard to find in a fire. And some are single-use rated, so you can’t practice on them.

• For these reasons, more and more people are opting for a permanently installed escape ladder, which costs a little more. It goes under the escape window in a can in the wall, so it’s hardly noticeable, but there if you need it. And it’s reusable, so everyone can practice opening, deploying and going down it. You just cut a hole in the drywall and bolt in the can between two 16-inch on center studs. Over it all goes a door that can be papered or painted to match the room.


Smoke detectors and escape ladders are available at hardware stores, home centers and online. Look into them now, talk to your family about escape routes and a meeting place and sleep better tonight!

Please feel free to call or email Max Leaman if you or someone you know has questions about home financing or refinancing: (512) 293-1239. You can also email

House FIre Prevention