House Fire Prevention and Safety Tips

| June 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

While you’d never want a house fire to happen in your home, it’s important for you and your family to do what you can to be prepared. Here is a brief guide to how you and your family can prepare for a house fire—and what you should do if fire does strike.

How to prepare for a fire

Install smoke detectors in your home.

Your home should come equipped with the necessary number of smoke detectors, but when in doubt, it’s always a good idea to check with a smoke detector installation specialist to make sure your home is up to code. A few things to keep in mind with installing smoke detectors:

  • Install smoke detectors on all floors of your home, including the basement.
  • NFPA recommends installing detectors inside all bedrooms and outside sleeping areas as well, as a closed door can slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
  • Install, a smoke detector at least 10 feet from your stove to minimize false alarms when cooking.
  • Don’t install alarms near doors, windows, or smoke detectors where drafts might interfere with their operation.

Check all smoke detectors regularly.

A good rule of thumb is to check your detectors once a month. This is usually as simple as pressing and holding a ‘test’ button until a loud beep sounds. Smoke detectors with built in batteries generally need to be replaced entirely every ten years.

Detectors with any other type of battery should have their batteries replaced once a year, with the detector itself replaced ten years after the manufacture date. If a smoke detector ever “chirps,” this is a sign that the battery is low and that the battery or entire smoke detector should be replaced immediately.

Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen—and where you sleep.

Cooking is the number one cause of house fires, so it makes sense to keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Mount one inside one of your kitchen cabinets.

A fire extinguisher in the kitchen, of course, will be of little use to you if you wake up in the middle of the night to a fire alarm. Keeping your fire extinguisher where you sleep will grant you the opportunity to use it to create a path out of the house if you need to.

The NFPA also recommends keeping fire extinguishers in your garage and laundry room. There should be at least one extinguisher on every level of your home.

This article has some great information on choosing the right fire extinguisher for your home. Be sure that you and everyone in your family knows how to operate the fire extinguishers in your home. Don’t forget to check the pressure gauges regularly and to replace fire extinguishers every 12 years (or sooner if used.)

Consider investing in a fireproof safe.

As this article mentions, a fireproof safe can offer you peace of mind as you prepare for a potential house fire. A fireproof safe can protect dangerous ammunition, important documents, precious metals, and more.

Create a fire escape plan with your family and practice it.

Do you and your family have a fire escape plan? If not, it’s time to establish one. Your fire escape plan should detail two escape routes for each room (including windows and doors) and ensure that those routes can be used safely by everyone.

Go through your escape plan with your family twice a year, inspecting all exits for adequate access as you do so.

What to do in case of a fire

Get out and call for help.

Your top priority should be to get out of the house and call 911. Do not stop to gather any possessions—as important as they might be to you, they cannot rival the value of your own life. Do not go back into your home for anything or anyone once you have escaped.

Always choose the safest escape route.

The safest escape route will have the least amount of smoke and heat. If you are unsure what lies beyond a closed door, lightly touch the doorknob to feel if it is hot.

Be prepared to escape under toxic smoke.

The safest escape route may still be filled with harmful smoke. If this is the case, get low and go under the smoke.

Close doors behind you.

Closing doors behind you on your way out can slow the spread of fire and give you more time to escape safely.

Protect yourself if you get trapped.

Sometimes fire will block all safe escape routes. If this is the case, assuming you have already called 911 and alerted them of your exact location, be sure to close any doors to slow the spread of fire.

Also be sure to open any windows to let fresh air in. Use duct tape or towels to seal any door cracks and vents and protect yourself from smoke. When the fire department arrives, wave a flashlight or light colored cloth at your window to help them find where you are located.

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