While many of us may never experience a house fire, it is a very real threat that can strike at any time if the proper preventative measures are not taken. However, if you are diligent and cautious, you can enjoy the cozy ambience that a crackling fireplace or a scented candle provides without fearing for the safety of your home and loved ones.

General Fire Precautions

Smoke alarms. Every homeowner should have at least one smoke alarm—more if the home is large or has multiple stories. There should be at least one smoke alarm on every level of a home, including the basement, and they should be placed near any bedrooms. Test your smoke alarms once a month, change the batteries each year, and replace alarms every ten years. Fires can spread extremely quickly, so it is of utmost importance that your smoke alarms are functioning properly and can give you as much warning of a fire as possible.

Fire extinguishers. Fire extinguishers are separated into different classes, each of which relates to a certain type of fire. Many home fire extinguishers are combination A:B:C, which means they can be used on ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids, and electrical equipment. Make sure to know which class your extinguisher is, so you know what kinds of fires it can be used on safely.

For more in-depth information on smoke alarms and fire extinguishers, check out our blog on what products to have in case of a home fire.

Evacuation routes. Prepare an evacuation plan that includes two ways to escape from each room. Pick a spot outside the home where all family members can meet after evacuation so that it will be easy to figure out whether or not anyone is still inside. Ensure that every member of your family knows all the details of the plan, and practice it twice a year—once during the day and once at night.

Types of House Fires and How to Prevent Them

Many household items use or generate heat and can put you at risk for a house fire. Chimneys, fireplaces, dryer vents, kitchen appliances, and candles are just a few of the common culprits. While you may use many of these items on a regular basis, you can safeguard against accidents in a variety of ways. Perform regular maintenance and cleanings to prevent buildup of flammable materials such as soot and lint. Never leave anything hot unattended; remain in the room while candles are burning, food is cooking, or fireplaces are being used. Supervise pets and children, and make sure they do not play anywhere near hot items or open flames. Store anything flammable far enough away from heat and flame to keep it from igniting.

What to Do During a House Fire

Evacuate. If your house catches on fire, get out immediately. Fire extinguishers can be used on small, contained fires, but if the threat is any larger than that, evacuation should be your absolute first concern—even before calling the fire department. Fires can spread throughout an entire house in just a few minutes, so you must use every spare second you have to get yourself safely outside. Once you are in a safe space, call for help, and do not reenter the house for any reason.

If you are inside a room when you hear a smoke alarm go off, feel the door before opening it. If the door or its handle is hot, do not open it; go out a window instead. If there are no windows in the room or you cannot safely exit through the window, place a damp cloth or tape along the bottom of the door to prevent smoke from coming in. Then, call the fire department, and wave a bright cloth or flashlight out the window to alert others to where you are.

Avoid injury. “Stop, drop, and roll” isn’t just a saying for kids. If any part of your clothing catches on fire, drop to the floor right away, cover your face with your hands, and roll around to smother the flames. It is also best to crawl low under smoke to keep yourself from breathing in too much of the toxic air. Smoke inhalation can severely damage your respiratory system or knock you unconscious and keep you from getting out of the house safely.

Fire safety must be taken seriously for the sake of your home, yourself, and your family. Fires can easily result in death, serious injury, and destruction, so make sure to educate yourself and take the appropriate actions to avoid devastation.  

Click Here to View Your Local Best Pick® Chimney & Fireplace Work Contractors

Sources: Family Handyman; Independent Traveler; Kiplinger.com; VacationHomeRentals.com.

For more information on our sources, please contact us directly.