Your smoke detectors have done their job, and they’ve alerted you to a fire within your home. The very first thing that you need to do is remain calm and avoid panicking. While your instincts might encourage you to immediately locate loved ones in other rooms, exercise caution first! There’s no telling what might be on the other side of any given door.

Before attempting to leave the room that you’re in, make sure to feel the door before opening it. If the door feels hot, then that means there is danger on the other side. If this is the case, do not open the door. Instead, you’ll want to find the quickest exit from the room that you’re already in. If this means that you’ll have to exit through a window, remember that a sprained ankle (or even a broken leg) is better than being trapped inside with the fire.

If the door is cool, you can attempt to open it. Do so slowly and carefully though, and if smoke or heat begins to enter the room you’re in, then slam the door shut and seek an alternate exit. Remember that smoke is just as dangerous (if not more so) than the fire itself! If you’re able to exit through the door, keep low to the ground and guard against the instinct to gather personal belongings. Instead, exit your home by the most direct and safe route possible.

Once you’re out of the house, stay out of the house. Fires are a powerful force of nature, and whatever the situation was when you left will only be worse if you try to reenter. Make sure to alert the authorities if they’re not already on the scene. If someone is trapped, do not attempt to rescue him or her. Instead, wait for the fire department; they’re equipped to perform fire rescues. You’re not.