CNAs: What Would You Do if a Fire Broke Out?

Printer-friendly version

Fires can happen anywhere, any time, for a variety of reasons.  But, when a fire occurs in a facility or home where frail, elderly or sick people live, the consequences can be devastating.  What should you do if a fire breaks out where you work?  First of all...don’t panic! If a fire breaks out, stay calm to set an example for clients—and follow these R.A.C.E. guidelines.

R = Rescue: Move clients who are in immediate danger away from smoke or flames first. Smoke kills, so bend or crawl under it. DON’T BREATHE IT IN! 
  • If there is a lot of smoke, cover your mouth and your client’s mouth with a cloth.
  • If your clothes or the client’s clothes catch on fire, do the following:
  • STOP right away. Running will increase the fire.
  • DROP to the floor and cover face with hands.
  • ROLL around on the floor until the fire is out.  
A = Alarm: Pull the fire alarm. If you are working in a facility, report the fire according to the facility’s policies and procedures. If you are in a client’s home, call 911. When you report the fire make sure you do the following:
  • Identify yourself.
  • Give the location of the fire. If you’re in a healthcare facility—give the name of the facility, address, and closest intersection. If you’re in a client’s home, give the address and closest intersection.
  • Tell the emergency operator the exact location, room number and floor level OR client’s room, bedroom, kitchen, etc.
  • Notify management in the facility or building. If you’re in a client’s home, notify your supervisor.
C = Confine: Close the doors and windows of client(s) rooms behind you to slow the spread of smoke and flames. Don’t open doors without checking for heat.   If the door is hot, it means there is fire on the other side. Opening a hot door can injure you and cause the fire to spread.
E = Extinguish:  Fight the fire ONLY if the fire is small and contained (such as a wastebasket or a frying pan) and ONLY if you have been trained to operate a portable fire extinguisher. However, before you begin to fight a small fire, make sure:
  • The area has been cleared,
  • The fire has been reported, and
  • You have a clear exit path for escape.

If you'd like to know more about fire safety, check out our complete CNA inservice, Fire Prevention & Safety.  And, above all, stay safe out there!

Take care,


Linda Leekley BS, RN


© 2008 - 2017 In the Know, Inc.

The content of this website, including all inservice materials, are the property of In the Know, Inc. All rights are reserved. Each nursing assistant who purchases an inservice may download it for his or her personal use only and a certificate of completion will be distributed in the purchasers name only. All other copying and distribution is strictly prohibited.

For CNA inservices that may be used among all the CNAs at an individual health care facility, please visit www.knowingmore.com. For CNA inservices that may be used at multiple locations within a corporate health care organization, please visit www.knownowprogram.com.