Testing doors before opening
- Before opening any doors along your escape route, kneel or crouch at the door. Reach up as high as you can and touch the door, the knob and the space between the door and its frame with the back of your hand. If the door is warm, use an alternate escape route. If the door is completely cool, open it cautiously. Put your shoulder against the door and open it slowly. A fire that has died down for lack of oxygen can flare up when a supply of fresh air rushes through the door you open. If heat or smoke enters the room, slam the door and make sure it is closed securely. Also take steps to seal around the door with duct tape or towels to prevent smoke from entering the room.
What to do if you are trapped
If your window is above the first storey, you should not drop to the ground. Unless you have an escape ladder or can climb down a balcony, porch, tree or garage, wait at the window for the fire department to rescue you. If possible, open the window a few inches at the top and bottom. Fresh air will enter at the bottom, and smoke will leave through the top. If the open window is drawing smoke into the room from any source, close the window tight.
- Stuff clothes or towels in the cracks under the door or seal around it with duct tape to keep smoke from entering the room. If there is a working phone in the room, call the fire department and tell the dispatcher where you are. The information will be relayed to the firefighters at the fire scene. Stay at the window and wave a flashlight or large light-colored cloth, such as a towel or sheet, to help firefighters find you.
Crawl low under smoke
During a fire, superheated air and smoke fill the room from the top down. Some poisonous smoke may settle in a layer near the floor. But in between, this will leave a "safety zone" of breathable air about 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 centimeters) above the floor.
- If you encounter smoke during your escape from a fire, turn around and use an alternate route. If you must exit through an area with smoke, crawl on your hands and knees to your exit, keeping your head in the safety zone.