More than 300,000 home fires occur each year, according to the NFPA statistics. Although the figures are decreasing, it’s still a major concern for every home and apartment owner, especially since we know it kills more than 2,500 people annually. That’s why fire safety is so important. Listed below are a few guidelines for preventing residential fires.
Know your enemy
First things first – you need to know what does a fire look like. Contrary to popular belief, fire isn’t bright, it’s pitch black. It quickly produces black smoke and leaves your home in darkness. Heat from a fire is a bigger problem than flames since it can reach 600 degrees pretty fast. That’s why it’s spreading so fast – a room gets so hot and everything in it ignites. This phenomenon is called flashover. Besides the heat, fire produces smoke and toxic gases which are even more deadly than the flames itself. Those gases make you sleepy and disoriented so that’s another reason why people fail to escape residential fires.
Make an escape plan
A fire escape plan could possibly be the most important plan you’ll ever make. Every second counts so it’s important to be prepared. Make an escape plan suited to your home and involve everyone in your household in the process. Children who know about an escape plan are more likely to survive residential fires so don’t spare your children – it’s for their own good. There are a few ground rules for an efficient home fire escape plan. For starters, make sure every room has two ways out – a door and a window, for instance. Just make sure you can actually exit through the window – a collapsible ladder should help. Agree on a safe meeting place with your family – near your mailbox or across the street. Check all the windows and doors and make sure they’re not stuck or blocked in any other way.
Equip yourself properly
A properly installed and regularly maintained smoke alarm can be a literal life-saver. You should install smoke alarms on every level of your house, check and change the batteries every few months, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Since most of the home fires start in the kitchen, it’s not a good idea to turn off your alarm while cooking. Handheld water sprays or mountable water pumps – it’s up to your preference, but it’s crucial to be equipped with tested firefighting units. You can check with your local fire department to see if there’s a training you can attend and learn how to use fire extinguishers.
It may seem like a waste of time, but having an escape plan and firefighting units is useless if you or your family don’t know what to do when there’s actual fire. Therefore, making sure that everyone understands the plan is crucial. Since fire produce smoke and darkness, you can practice escaping from the house blindfolded. Also, it’s very important to teach your children not to be afraid and hide from firefighters. Make sure you can leave your home quickly, so leave the keys on a hook close to the door. Instruct your household to crawl low during a fire and to cover broken window glass with a blanket or any other fabric.
Lower the risks
Some indoor activities increase the risk of fire so be extra careful. When cooking, never leave the stove on and stay in the kitchen until you’re completely finished. Try not to smoke inside the house and make sure every cigarette is out. Check appliances’ cords and secure any frayed wires. Regularly clean and inspect your fireplace and chimney and double check if the fire is completely out before going out or to bed.
Don’t take fire safety for granted and devote some time to this concern. Follow these few simple steps and you can prevent, lower the risk, or, most importantly, survive any residential fire.