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Home Fire Safety Guide Fires in a home can be devastating - both financially and emotionally.
Billions are estimated to be lost each year due to fire and three out of five deaths occur on properties with no smoke alarm. The point is – there are things that any homeowner can do to both prevent fires and ensure that their loved ones and possessions remain safe.
It’s scary to even think about being woken by the smell of smoke and the sound of alarms, but preparing in advance of this potentially tragic event with a guide to home fire safety will ensure that your loved ones and possessions are not in jeopardy.
CREATE AN ESCAPE PLAN
Fire safety starts with an emergency plan. Identifying escape routes that account for doors, windows, hallways and exits, and educating those within your home on the ideal path to safety will save lives. Keep in mind that fire is unpredictable so having contingency plans in place will ensure that should certain areas of the home be inaccessible due to flames or smoke there will still be a way out.
DEVELOP A FIRE SAFETY ACTION PLAN
The best course of action is to leave the home as quickly as you can, but you may be able to take some action to prevent the fire from spreading, if you have a plan.
The first thing homeowners should do is to immediately call the fire department (e.g. 911) as they are determining whether they can put out the fire on their own.
That will require the use of fire extinguishers (which should be placed in important areas including kitchens and within bedrooms. If there is too much danger (fire or smoke) however, head outdoors to safety.
FIRE SAFETY TRAINING
There are many basic steps to remember in case of fire. One of the most important is to remember that people are the most important, then pets (if you have them), and then belongings. Never put yourself or your loved one in jeopardy so avoid trying to grab items that can be easily replaced – that includes your wallet, keys or photo albums – and never go back into home where a fire is present.
Should the worst case scenario happen, there are also several things that everyone should know. If you are trapped in a room within a home where a fire is present, for example, touch the doorknob to see if the fire on the other side presents a clear and present danger. Opening the door can fuel the fire (due to airflow) and increase the speed at which the fire can spread.
If there is still a clear path to an exit but the area is filled with smoke, crawl on your hands and knees to safety. Keep a piece of clothing or a towel over your mouth and nose to filter the smoke.
HOME FIRE SAFETY EQUIPMENT
Fire safety in the home starts with an action plan but having the right equipment can also ensure that residents of the home have the best chance at escape and damage to the property can be minimized. The most important fire safety equipment includes:
- Fire extinguishers: store fire extinguishers on every level of the home and within each bedroom; make sure they are checked regularly.
- Fire blankets: Fire-retardant blankets can protect people and can be used to smother fires should they occur in a home.
- Smoke detectors: A majority of fire-related deaths occur in properties where there is no smoke alarm present. Don’t be a statistic – buy alarms and test regularly to ensure they are functioning properly.
- Fire sprinklers: One of the most effective ways to reduce flames and heat during a fire is to have sprinklers in place.
- Escape ladders: For anyone living in a multi-story property, a fire ladder should be mandatory as they enable residents to leave quickly and safely when doors or hallways are blocked.
Know that fires can be prevented but should they happen within your home, having an action plan and the right equipment in place to prevent their spread will ensure that you have done all you can to protect your possessions and more importantly your loved ones.