Fire Escape Drill

Include in Your Drill

  • Who has the responsibility of waking a child or older adult.
  • If you have babies or toddlers in the home: 
    • Keep a baby harness by the crib in case of emergencies. The harness allows you to comfortably carry your baby and leave your hands free to escape the home.
    • Keep your kid's bedroom door closed. If a hallway fire occurs, a closed door will hinder smoke from overpowering your baby or toddler, giving firefighters extra time for rescue.
  • Have family members practice escaping through smoke by crawling low on hands and knees.
  • Never open doors that are hot to the touch.
  • Ensure family members close doors behind them.
  • Remind family members not to stop to get dressed or collect possessions.
  • Follow your planned escape all the way through to the meeting place. Take attendance. Get out and stay out – Never go back into a burning building for any reason. If a person or a pet is missing or trapped inside, tell the firefighters immediately. They are equipped to perform rescues safely.
  • Designate one person to go the neighbors to call the Fire Department/911.
  • Allow children to master fire escape planning and practice before holding a fire drill at night when they are sleeping. The objective is to practice, not to frighten, so telling children there will be a drill before they go to bed can be as effective as a surprise drill.
  • It's important to determine during the drill whether children and others can readily waken to the sound of the smoke alarm. If they fail to awaken, make sure that someone is assigned to wake them up as part of the drill and in a real emergency situation.
  • If your home has two floors, every family member (including children) must be able to escape from the second floor rooms. Escape ladders can be placed in or near windows to provide an additional escape route. Review the manufacturer's instructions carefully so you'll be able to use a safety ladder in an emergency. Practice setting up the ladder from a first floor window to make sure you can do it correctly and quickly. Children should only practice with a grown-up, and only from a first-story window. Store the ladder near the window, in an easily accessible location. You don't want to have to search for it during a fire.
  • Always choose the escape route that is safest – the one with the least amount of smoke and heat – but be prepared to escape under toxic smoke if necessary. When you do your fire drill, everyone in the family should practice getting low and going under the smoke to your exit.
  • In some cases, smoke or fire may prevent you from exiting your home or apartment building. To prepare for an emergency like this, practice "sealing yourself in for safety" as part of your home fire escape plan. Close all doors between you and the fire. Use duct tape or towels to seal the door cracks and cover air vents to keep smoke from coming in. If possible, open your windows at the top and bottom so fresh air can get in. Call the fire department to report your exact location. Wave a flashlight or light-colored cloth at the window to let the fire department know where you are located.

After the Drill

  • Remove obstacles or rearrange furniture that may prevent a quick and safe evacuation (including blocked exits, jammed or barred windows).
  • If children or other family members could not hear the alarm, install additional alarms and adjust the escape plan to help all members get out safely.
  • Call the Charleston Fire Department (843) 720-1981 for a free smoke alarm and installation, and advice on your fire escape plan.