When a Smoke Alarm Detects Fire

What do I do when the detector alarms?
How your family responds in a fire depends on how well you've prepared.
  • Make sure everyone is familiar with the sound of the detector's alarm.
  • Plan escape routes. Know at least 2 ways out of each room. Agree on a meeting place outside your home where all residents will gather after they escape.
  • Practice your escape plan at least twice a year, and teach every member of your household these survival techniques:
    • Crawl low under smoke. If you must escape through an area with smoke, crawl to the nearest safe exit on your hands and knees. Smoke and poisonous gases rise. Keep your head 12 to 24 inches above floor.
    • Stop, drop, and roll. If your clothes catch fire, stop, don't run. Drop to the ground, cover your face with your hands, and roll over and over to smother the flames.
    • When an alarm sounds, leave the building immediately and go to your meeting place. Then call the fire department from a neighbor's phone.
    • Once you're out, stay out. Never return to a burning building.
Return to FAQs.