Every fire brigade in the country recommends having a plan to escape your home or business in the event of a fire. When an emergency arises, there may not be any time to think. You have to move quickly and make sure everyone gets out of the building safely. You can aid that process by drawing up a formal layout of your house or office, noting key exit locations and the best routes for an escape. It could pay huge dividends if the time comes.
Sketch a layout of your house or office. It should be as accurate as you can make it, though it needn't be fastidious down to the last inch. The layout should include every room, all of the internal doors and each of the external doors and windows as well.
Add the location of any smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems and similar fire prevention methods to your drawing. They'll help you identify which areas are protected and whether there are any tools nearby to help with a fire. (Ideally, there should be a smoke detector in every bedroom and at least one on each floor of your home or business.)
Note any problems or difficulties with external doors and windows that may cause problems during an escape. For example, some windows may have bars on them or may be located on an upper story with a steep drop. Use magic markers to colour code each exit in terms of desirability--green for easy exits, yellow for more problematic exits and red for exits that should only be used as a last resort. Write down a brief note on any yellow or red exits describing the difficulty and the best way to get around it if necessary.
Mark a nearby spot outside of the building to be used as a meeting place. It can be in the car park, the backyard or the nearby sidewalk. It should be clear of the building and have a recognisable landmark that everyone can identify ("the mailbox," for example, or "the tire swing.") Make sure everyone knows to meet there right after getting clear of the building. That way, you can account for everyone after you have escaped.
Print up copies of your escape plan and give it to everyone in the building. Post a copy in common areas such as the kitchen or the break room, where everyone can see it.
In addition to the map itself, practice basic fire safety techniques and make sure everyone knows them. Stay low in the event of a fire to avoid smoke inhalation. Never open a door that is hot to the touch. Always use stairs instead of elevators when fleeing.