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You Only Have Three Minutes to Escape a Home Fire, UL Video Shows

For Fire Prevention Month, taking place in October, UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) has released a…

  • October 23, 2020

For Fire Prevention Month, taking place in October, UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) has released a video to demonstrate the remarkable speed of a home fire and encourage people to adopt critical fire safety behaviors to give them more time to respond and escape in the event of a fire.

In addition to the video, UL FSRI also released the results of its annual fire safety survey demonstrating the need for more awareness among the general public around the issue of fire safety.

The new video shows a room becoming unlivable in just three minutes, underscoring the need to get out quickly and calling on consumers to take three life-saving steps to protect themselves in the event of a home fire:

Have working smoke alarms on every floor of your home, including in and outside every sleeping area. Check your smoke alarms monthly and replace them every 10 years. Smoke alarms give you and your loved ones the earliest warning possible that there is a fire.

Have an escape plan and practice it; know two ways to get out if there is a fire. If there is smoke blocking the door or first way out, use your second way out. Also, if your first way out is blocked get a closed door between you and the fire to buy time to use your second way out, especially if that requires escaping out a window.

Close Before You Doze. A closed door can be an effective barrier against deadly levels of carbon monoxide, smoke and flames, and may give you more time to respond to the smoke alarm.

In fact, there can be a 900-degree difference in room temperature between a room with an open door and one with a closed door, with the open-door room reaching temperatures of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit or more. In 2018, UL FSRI released its “Dramatic Difference” video demonstrating this comparison.

The annual fire safety survey conducted in September 2020 shows that many misconceptions still exist around fire safety. Only 35% of people always sleep with their door closed, up from 26% in 2019.

And while more than half of the responses (58%) indicated that they would be alerted to a home fire by their smoke alarm, one-third (33%) of respondents hold the belief that they would be alerted by the smell of smoke, while another 9% believed they would be alerted by other factors such as temperature or a family pet.

Other highlights from the fire safety survey include:  

More than a quarter (27%) of people estimated they would have more than three minutes to safely exit their home in the event of a home fire.

However, although the majority of people understand that they need to quickly exit their home, 47.8% of people believe they would have enough time to gather what’s important to them and safely exit their home and 24.2% of respondents think the risk of injury or death is low in a home fire.

61.8% of respondents indicated they have fire escape plan, but more than half (56%) only review that plan once per year or less often. Nearly 40% of people have no escape plan at all. People with children in their household are more likely to practice and review their escape plans monthly.

The majority of people say they have smoke alarms in their home that they believe are working, but well under half (39.1%) meet the recommended monthly testing frequency and have tested their smoke alarms in the past month. Many respondents indicated their smoke alarms don’t cover every recommended area in their home.

The new video is being released alongside another video of an experiment showing a side-by-side comparison of natural versus synthetic furnished rooms highlighting how fast fire spreads in today’s fire environment.

Fire is faster today due to synthetic materials, lighter construction materials and open floor plans. The second video stems from a series of experiments examining fire behavior and provides valuable insights for first responders. Both videos can be viewed at