EDITH, Exit Drills in the Home

EDITH, Exit Drills in the Home, is a national program sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association to help parents and children learn to safely escape a fire. EDITH stresses preplanning and practice to help parents teach their children the proper ways to escape a fire.

Plan Your Escape

  • When a fire occurs, there's no time for planning. Sit down with your family today and make a step-by-step plan for escaping a fire.
  • Draw a floor plan of your home marking two ways out of every room - especially sleeping areas.
  • Agree on a meeting place outside your home where every member of the household will gather after escaping a fire to wait for the fire department. This allows you to count heads and inform the fire department if anyone is trapped inside the burning building.
  • Practice your escape plans at least twice a year. Have a fire drill in your home. Appoint someone to be the monitor and have everyone participate. A fire drill is not a race. Get out quickly, but carefully!
  • Make your exit drills realistic. Pretend that some exits are blocked by fire, and practice alternative escape routes. Pretend that the lights are out and that some escape routes are filling with smoke.

Be Prepared

  • Make sure everyone in the household can unlock all doors and windows quickly, even in the dark. If you live in an apartment, use stairways to leave the building. Never use an elevator during a fire: it may stop between floors or take you to a floor where fire is burning.
  • If you live in a two-story house and you must escape from a second-story window, be sure there is a safe way to reach the ground. Make special arrangements for children, older adults, and people with disabilities. People who have difficulty moving should have a phone in their bedroom and, if possible, should sleep on the ground floor.
  • Test doors before you open them. While kneeling or crouching 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 hot, use another escape route. If the door is cool, open it with caution.
  • If you are trapped, close the doors between you and the fire. Stuff the cracks around the doors to keep smoke out. Wait at a window and signal for help with light-colored cloth or a flashlight. If there's a phone in the room, call the fire department and tell them exactly where you are.

Get Out Fast

  • In case of a fire, don't stop for anything. Do not try to rescue possessions or pets. Go directly to your meeting place, and then call the fire department from your neighbor's phone or an alarm box. Every member of your household should know how to call the fire department.
  • Crawl low under smoke. Smoke contains deadly gases, and heat rises. Cleaner air will be near the floor. If you encounter smoke using your primary exit, use your alternative escape plan. If you must exit through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees, keeping your head 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 centimeters) above the floor.

And Stay Out

  • Once you are out of your home, don't go back for any reason. If people are trapped, the fire fighters have the best chance of rescuing them. The heat and smoke of a fire are overpowering. Fire fighters have the training, experience, and protective equipment needed to enter burning buildings.

Play It Safe

  • Smoke detectors: More than half of all fatal home fires happen at night, while people are asleep. Smoke detectors sound an alarm when a fire starts, waking people before they are trapped or overcome by smoke. With smoke detectors, your risk of dying in a home fire is cut nearly in half. Install smoke detectors outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home, including the basement. Follow installation instructions carefully, and test smoke detectors monthly. Change batteries at least once a year. If your detector is more than 10 years old, replace it.
  • Automatic sprinkler systems attack a fire in its early stages by spraying water only on the area where the fire has begun. Consider including sprinkler systems in plans for new construction and installing them in existing homes.