One of the scariest things that could ever happen to your home is a house fire. It is likely that you were taught in school some basic fire safety tips, such as, “Stop, drop, and roll.” In the list below, we have more tips for fire safety.
How to Prevent Fire in Your Home:
- Do not leave open flames, including candles and fireplaces, or heat sources, such as your stove, unattended.
- Consider wireless battery operated candles, especially in windows near curtains.
- Do not use the oven to heat your home. Electric blankets and hand warmers may help if you can’t afford to leave home or if repair companies are backed up.
- If your heating source is out, keep water dripping, especially from exterior faucets like a kitchen sink, to prevent another major expense.
- Do not overload your circuits.
- Be especially careful with space heaters. Most fire departments advise against using them, but if you do, keep any space heater away from furniture and walls.
- Many space heaters today are safer and more energy efficient than in the past. Choose space heaters that are UL listed (the industry standard safety mark), have an automatic shut off or tip over safety switch, and are energy efficient.
How to Keep People Safe:
- Make a plan with your family of what to do in the case of a fire.
- Decide on a meeting place away from the house.
- Identify all exits. If anyone needs assistance to get out, decide on roles of who will help whom.
- If there are bedrooms on the second floor or higher, invest in a fire escape ladder and store it near the window.
- Practice with children getting low near the floor and navigating out of the house.
- Keep fire extinguishers on every floor, especially in the kitchen close to the stove.
- Install 10-year smoke detectors. If you live in a multistory home, choose a model that can be connected to the whole house. That way, if a fire starts in the basement, you will be alerted upstairs, which is especially helpful when people are sleeping.
- Many fire departments offer free safety inspections. Schedule one now. Electric companies can also check your outlets and wiring to prevent a fire from starting in your home.
- Keep small children away from heat-based appliances, such as keep them off of a counter next to an oven. That’s an accident just waiting to happen.
A house fire is something that can largely be prevented and planned for. But in the event that there is a fire, following these tips can help keep your family safe:
- Call 911 immediately and get everyone out.
- Test the door handle for heat before opening. If it’s hot, don’t go into the hall.
- If you can’t get out of your home (or hotel), the safest place may be in the bathtub, with wet towels placed at the base of the door.
- If in an apartment (or hotel), request it be no higher than a fire ladder can reach to rescue you in the case of an emergency. (Heights vary so ask your local fire department how far they can reach.)
- Count the number of doors to the exit and remember the direction as well as the number of doors.
- Crawl if the building is filling with smoke.
- Don’t get in an elevator. Use the stairs.
- Don’t break windows. You will only fuel the fire. Instead, if you are able, use soap or pens to write SOS or HELP on the glass to alert the fire department that you are in the building.
- Breathe through a mask or cloth.
By Serrin M. Foster and Bethanie Ryan
The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions of fuel expert Joyce McCauley-Benner.