Home escape

Home escape

When a fire occurs, there is no time to waste. 

Plan ahead: discuss the escape routes with everyone in your household

  • If you live in a single-family home, draw a floor plan of your home. Find two ways out of every room, especially sleeping areas. You can download and print your own fire escape grid (PDF) from the new Toronto Community Housing tenant Safety Guide.
  • If you live in an apartment building, use stairways to escape. Never use an elevator during a fire. It may stop between floors or take you to a floor where the fire is burning.
  • Know where all the exit stairs are on your floor. If the nearest one is blocked by fire or smoke, you may have to use another exit.
  • Make special arrangements for children, older adults and people who have disabilities. 
  • If the fire alarm sounds, feel the door before opening. If it is hot, use another way out. 
  • Close all doors behind you as you leave.
  • Your plan should include a meeting place outside where household members will gather.
  • Practise your escape plan at least twice a year.

A smoke alarm is going off. A woman is holding a door open and gesturing to a man and young child to exit the unit
A man is closing an apartment door behind him, and there is an arrow pointing to the stairs
This image tells viewers to use the stairs and never use the elevator during a fire
A woman, young child and man are exiting a building and crossing the street to a safe place

Get out fast: do not stop for anything during a fire

  • Do not try to rescue possessions. 
  • Go directly to your meeting place, then call 9-1-1 and ask for Toronto Fire Services.
  • If you encounter smoke when using your primary exit, use your alternate escape plan.
  • If you must exit through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees low to the floor where the air will be cleaner and cooler.

…And stay out

  • Once you are out of your home, do not go back for any reason.
  • Heat and smoke during a fire are overpowering, and firefighters have the best chance of rescuing someone.
  • Firefighters have the training, experience and protective equipment needed to enter a burning building.

If you cannot safely evacuate the building, shelter in place

  • If fire or smoke is blocking all exits, stay in your apartment. Keep the door closed, and put wet towels around the door and vents to keep smoke out.
  • Call 9-1-1 and tell the operator where you are.
  • Open a window slightly and wave a bright cloth to signal your location.

A young child see smoke coming through a crack in the door while the smoke alarm goes off
The young child seals the door crack with a blanket
A young child calls 911 and lets them know what unit he is in
A young child has hung a bright cloth out of a window and a firefighter is rescuing him from a fire truck

Guidance for occupants of high-rise buildings (over six storeys)

Although the safest place to be during a fire is outside the building, if smoke is NOT entering your unit it is safe to stay where you are and wait for further instructions.