This Home Fire Drill Day, Plan and Practice Your Home Fire Escape Plan

Amy Earnhardt, wife of former NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., admits that until she met her husband, she never thought a lot about home fires. She had never experienced a home fire or knew anyone else who had been affected by one. A home fire was something that happened to others…not to her. Her husband is all too familiar with the devastation a home fire can cause.

“When Dale and his sister Kelley were young, their mother’s home was completely destroyed by a home fire. Fortunately, everyone got out of the house OK, but almost all of their belongings were consumed in the fire,” said Amy. “It also completely changed their living situation as they went from living with their mom to living with their dad in North Carolina.  Dale still talks today about how that moment was a major event in his life as it changed so many things for him at a young age.”

The experience that Dale and Kelley lived through was extremely traumatic and, unfortunately, more common than people might think. Statistics show that seven out of ten structure fires happen in a home, apartment or other structure where people live. What’s even more shocking is that seven of 10 families don’t have a plan to get out of their house safely in the event of a fire.

Hearing Dale and Kelley talk about their home fire made Amy realize the importance of being prepared and making sure others are as well. That’s why Amy, Dale, and Kelley and are teaming up with Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen program this week to encourage families across the country to create a fire escape plan and then practice it on Oct. 13 – National Home Fire Drill Day.

“Protecting people is a key mission for Nationwide and we’re so thankful to have the Earnhardt family partner with us to raise awareness for this important topic,” said Jennifer MacKenzie, senior vice president of Marketing for Nationwide. “Having Dale, Kelley and Amy on board helps us spread the home fire safety message to families everywhere.”

Creating a plan is simple – just map out two escape routes in your home, designate a meeting place that’s a safe distance away from your house and then practice those routes with a goal of getting to your meeting place in two minutes or less.

“Practicing the plan is key to making sure your family gets out of the home safely. Once that smoke detector sounds, kids who haven’t prepared can often get scared or confused,” says Amy. “They may hide in a closet or under the bed, or head back into their bedroom to get a favorite toy. It’s important that they know what to do and where to go if a fire breaks out in the home.”

As new parents, Dale and Amy know that our daughter is relying on them to be her escape plan. That’s why they’ll be taking the time to practice their plan as a family so that if the time comes, they’ll be ready. The Earnhardts encourage families everywhere to do the same on Saturday, Oct. 13 as part of Home Fire Drill Day.

Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen Program offers the following tips for creating and practicing a home fire escape plan:

Draw out the plan as a family

  • Draw out a floor plan of your home, marking the doors and windows
  • Have two ways out of every room
  • Identify a safety spot outside where everyone should meet
  • Mark the locations of smoke alarms
  • Assign an adult to help young children or anyone needing assistance

Practice getting out of your home when the alarm starts

  • Practice getting out of the home and to the safety spot in less than two minutes
  • Get out and stay out. Do not go back in to a burning home
  • Leave everything behind
  • Stay low to avoid smoke
  • Practice your plan twice a year
  • Practice your plan during the day and night
  • Use the Make Safe Happen App to practice

For tips and tools on how to create and practice your fire escape plan, visit or download the Make Safe Happen app for iPhone or Android.