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COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates and Guidance

The County is taking a number of actions to keep residents safe and minimize the spread of COVID-19. Find status information for County operations and services.

Home Fire Escape Planning

Fire experts say you have about two minutes to get out of a building safely in event of a fire. A home fire escape plan greatly enhances your chances of being able to do that, yet only a small percentage of families have one.

Fire Safety Steps

The Baltimore County Fire Department strongly advises these fire safety steps for every household:

  • Check your smoke alarms. Make sure they are properly placed and in working order.
  • Make sure doors and windows open.
  • Create an escape plan. Pull together everyone in your household, walk the house and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Mark two ways out of each room, including windows. Mark the location of each smoke alarm and make sure every family member knows how to identify the sound of the alarm.
  • Practice your evacuation plan twice a year. Everyone should be able to evacuate in less than two minutes. Practice in the dark.
  • Designate an outside meeting place.
  • Teach family members that once they are out of the house during an emergency, stay out. Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. If someone is missing, inform fire officials when you call 911 or speak to fire crews on the fire ground; firefighters are trained and equipped to perform rescues.

Escape Plan

An escape plan includes education on how to escape a burning house or what to do if you cannot get out:

  • Close doors. Closed doors and windows slow the spread of heat, smoke and fire.
  • Stay low and go. Crawl quickly under the smoke to the nearest exit.
  • Use the top of your hand to feel top of doors, doorknobs and the cracks between doors and door frames to make sure fire is not on other side. If heat and smoke come in when you open the door, slam it shut and use an alternate route.
  • If you are unable to leave the building, seal doors and vents with duct tape or towels to prevent smoke from entering the room. Open a window at the top and bottom so fresh air can enter; be ready to close the window immediately if it draws smoke into the room. Call 911 and let dispatchers know you are trapped inside. Wave a flashlight or light-colored cloth to let rescuers know where you are located.

Useful Resources

  • The National Fire Protection Association's "How to Make a Home Fire Escape Plan" webpage offers comprehensive tips for building a good plan. It includes a downloadable escape plan grid to help you build your plan.
  • The American Red Cross provides a fire escape planning resource that includes a printable worksheet families can use to assist in building their plans.
  • This U.S. Fire Administration video, "Fire Safety—Have Two Ways Out," is an excellent summary of the most important elements of home fire escape planning.
Revised February 24, 2020         


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