“It can't happen here.” This seems to be the attitude of most homeowners when it comes to fire safety, according to a recent survey. Only one in four Americans has devised and practiced a plan to escape from the home during a fire, a survey by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has found.

The NFPA survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, also found that people older than age 65 were most likely to have developed an escape plan. But they were least likely to have practiced their escape plan if they had one.

Least likely to have even developed an escape plan are 18- to 24-year-olds — the "supermen and women" of the workplace who fail to see their vulnerabilities.

One reason why people might have neglected escape planning is that many overestimate how much time they will have to escape a fire. People often have only two minutes to get out safely.

The NFPA offers these tips on escape planning:

  • Draw a floor plan of your home and show two ways to get out of each room.
  • Practice the escape plan at least twice a year, and involve the entire family.
  • If a family member has trouble walking or is disabled, assign someone to help that person.
  • Designate a meeting place outside.
  • Make sure doors and windows can be opened easily and that security bars have quick-release mechanisms on the inside.
  • Heat and smoke rise; if you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your exit.
  • Post an emergency telephone number on or near all telephones. Make sure everyone memorizes the number of the local fire department.
  • Never go back into a burning building.