When you think of fire safety, you probably think about those drills that got you out of class for just a little bit when you were in school or the shrill sound that informed you of a fire drill at work inconveniently in the middle of an important meeting. For the most part, you’ve probably been able to entrust fire safety protocol to others and have not had to give much thought to what fire safety looks like for you and your family. U.S. fire departments report an estimated 358,500 residential home fires occur every year and no one is exempt from it happening to them. Having a fire safety plan is the best way to protect your family in the event that this type of tragedy happens to you.
Have Those Smoke Alarms Installed & Working
The first step to a sound fire safety plan is to have smoke alarms installed. What you may not know is that smoke alarms should be installed on every floor of your home, inside of all of the bedrooms and outside of all sleeping areas. Also, something that most people are unaware of therefore neglect to do is to test those smoke alarms every month. Your smoke alarm will be of very little help if it isn’t working or if the batteries need to be replaced. Smoke alarms are meant to be replaced every 8 to 10 years so if you’ve reached this usage period, it’s important that you proactively replace them, whether they are still working or not.
Make A Fire Escape Plan & Go Over It With Your Kids
Once you’ve made sure that your smoke alarms are in working order, you need to make your fire escape plan. It’s advised that you create two escape routes from each room in the event that one of the escape routes is blocked or impossible to leave from. Be sure to test the temperature of the door before opening it. If the doorknob or door is hot, you should not open it and use your other escape route. f you only have one door, don’t panic, a window that you can jump from or that has access to a fire escape can be used as a secondary escape route.
Before you decide to use a window as an escape plan, make sure that the windows are not stuck and can be opened easily. Be sure to discuss this escape plan with all of the members of your family and answer any questions that they have.
Practice Those Fire Escape Plans At Least 2x A Year
The Red Cross warns that if a fire were to start in your home, you may have as little as two minutes to escape so having a fire safety plan in place is vital if you are to succeed at hitting this time goal. Two minutes is not a lot of time, so in order to beat the clock, you will need to practice evacuating your home. The recommendation is that you do it twice a year but if your family is slow to get out of the house, you may want to practice a little more until the timing is satisfactory. You can schedule these practices, but it also may a good idea to do an impromptu evacuation to test your abilities to get out of the house in a good amount of time when you’re not expecting it.
Also important is the matter of fire prevention. The U.S. fire department reports that residential home fires are most likely to start from open flames, accidents, and cooking. When dealing with open flames or when cooking, make sure to do so with the utmost safety precautions. We know that fire is very dangerous but smoke can be just as dangerous if inhaled. In the event of a fire, you should remember the Stop. Drop and Roll guidelines and stay as low to the ground as possible when making your escape as heavy smoke and gas are known to collect first near the ceiling.
Express Safety For What To Do *If* A Fire Happens
If a fire occurs in your home, it’s important that you get out as quickly as possible and stay out. Don’t try to save any of your things. It will be tempting but try to remember that things can be replaced but life cannot. In the case of pets, if they’re not easy to get to, it’s also advised that you leave them inside and inform firefighters as soon as they arrive at the scene of the fire. If you’re really concerned about valuable documents, consider making digital copies of anything that you wouldn’t want to lose. Once you are outside you can call for help.
Typically the best number to call is 9-1-1. Extra precautions that can be taken, assuming you can afford the expense would be to install a sprinkler in your home that will automatically turn on when it senses smoke. You can also consider installing a fire extinguisher.
We all hope that we’re never put in a situation where we have to implement these safety tactics. It’s very natural to assume that a house fire will never happen to you, especially if you’ve never met anyone who’s been involved in one. Although it may not be probable it’s possible and in the event that it does, you will never regret being more prepared than not.