(Cosmopolitan) No one expects to be trapped in a burning building, but it happens, obviously. Memorize some survival strategies pronto from the National Fire Protection Association. Before a blaze happens:

  • Make sure you have smoke alarms in every bedroom as well as on each floor, including the basement, of your home. They should be interconnected, so if one goes off, they all do. Test them once a month, and change the batteries once a year, fire departments recommend choosing Daylight Saving as a reminder.
  • Establish and practice an escape plan that includes two ways out of each room.
  • If you are staying in a hotel, take note of the nearest stairwells and fire exits.
  • Install emergency release devices to any security bars on your windows or doors so they can be opened in seconds.


Once the fire has started:

  • Get low, and go. Smoke rises, so air is easier to breathe closer to the floor. Stay as low as you can, and move fast.
  • Close all doors between you and the fire as you leave. It’ll slow the spread of the flames.
  • If your body or clothes are on fire, immediately drop to the floor or ground, cover your face with your hands, and keep rolling until you’ve smothered the flames.
  • Call 911 from outside. The few seconds it takes to dial those three digits may prevent you from exiting safely.
  • Once you’re safely outside, avoid the temptation to go back in for any reason.


If you’re trapped:

  • Close doors between you and the flames. If possible, seal door cracks and air vents with duct tape or towels to prevent smoke from coming in.
  • Call 911 to report your location, and if you can, go into a room with a window to await their arrival.

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