When a fire starts within your home, you have less than two minutes to find a safe escape route. Smoke can fill a house within several minutes and in less than 30 seconds a small flame can turn into a large fire. It is important to conduct fire drills with your family and to have a plan that takes several different scenarios into account. To keep your family and your home safe, plan and be prepared for anything that may happen.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, especially inside all bedrooms and outside any other sleeping areas.
- Test your smoke alarms every month. If they are not working properly, change the batteries. A working smoke alarm reduces the chance of a fatal accident by 50%. Smoke alarms normally expire after 10 years, so if it is outdated it is important to replace it.
- Do not ever leave food cooking when it is unattended. Always wearing short and tight-fitting sleeves while cooking and keep towels and pot holders away from any open flames.
- Discuss with all your family members what your fire escape plan is and practice executing the plan twice a year. Each room should have two options of escape because predicting an emergency is impossible. It is also recommended to designate one person to help any small children or infants escape the home.
- When practicing your escape plan, make sure you practice feeling the door, doorknob, and cracks around the door to check for heat. This would indicate that a fire is directly on the opposite side of the door and that an exit out of the door is not safe or possible.
- Teach your children to “get low and go”. Smoke is toxic to our bodies, but it also rises. Staying low helps us keep clear of the smoke. It is important children understand this to exit the house safely.
- Choose a designated place to meet outside that is a safe distance away from your home. This way you will know that all your family made it out.
- If a fire does occur in your home, get out and stay out. Once you are safely outside, call for help. Do not go back inside for anything or anyone.
- If you live in an apartment building or condo, make sure that you pull the fire alarm if the buildings’ sensors have not already gone off. Be familiar with your buildings exits and do not attempt to use an elevator when there is a fire.
- If you are stuck inside a home that is on fire, attempt to block any smoke that is entering the room. Then attempt to use a light or a light-colored cloth to signal to other people outside that you are still inside.
- To prevent house fires, make sure you keep space heaters or anything flammable at least three feet away from any materials that could burn. Also, don’t plug in several appliances into the same electrical socket.
When you are faced with a fire in your home, the most important thing is to keep calm and think rationally. If you have a plan that you have shared with your family, then everyone already knows how to handle the situation. As soon as you hear your fire or smoke alarm sound, evacuate the house immediately. It is essential to be prepared before a disaster takes place and execute your plan immediately.