Tips & Prevention
Everyone should be aware of how to protect him or herself in case of a house fire. Home fire safety needs to be part of every family’s emergency plan. Even small children can learn the basics of fire safety and prevention. Most home fires are caused by careless actions and could have been prevented. Yet fires occur in thousands of homes and affect many lives every year. There are some important fire safety tips that help prevent fires. Use this fire prevention checklist to assist in making your home as safe as possible.
- Install smoke detectors in every room and hallway. Smoke detectors are the single most important item that can help save lives in the case of a fire—a home fire safety must-have. Smoke detectors give early warning to people so that they can escape a burning building quickly.
- Check smoke detectors every month. Don’t let non-working smoke detectors hamper your home fire safety. A smoke detector has an easy test button that allows you to make sure it is working properly. Change the batteries every year whether they need it or not.
- Keep fire extinguishers available. Make sure that you have the proper type of fire extinguishers. For example, the kitchen needs an extinguisher designed for use on grease fires.
- Create a home fire emergency evacuation plan. This should include possible escape routes, as well as a location outside the home to be used as a meeting place for the family. Practice evacuation so that all family members know what to do in case of a fire. Home fire safety means planning ahead.
- When using candles, make sure to extinguish them completely before leaving the room. Never leave unattended candles burning.
- Many house fires begin in the kitchen. Don’t leave the kitchen with the burners or broiler on. Never leave the house while cooking – always turn the burners off. This is a critical element in fire safety tips.
- Be prepared for a grease fire by keeping flour near the cooking area. Flour can be used to successfully snuff out a grease fire quickly and easily. Also, keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Don’t try to put out a grease fire with water, as this will only spread the fire.
- Electrical fires are commonly associated with overuse of outlets. For optimum home fire safety, don’t plug too many things into one outlet. Use extension cords carefully and plug only one item into an extension cord.
- Space heaters can create a fire. Don’t use space heaters on carpeting or near curtains or bedding. Always place heaters on a secure surface, and plug them directly into the wall rather than into an extension cord, which typically can’t handle them.
- Unplug appliances when not in use. Irons and toasters should be unplugged except during use. Don’t put irons down directly onto the ironing board surface.
- Keep all matches and lighters out of reach of young children. Children are often curious and can quickly burn themselves or start a fire.
- Properly dispose of items such as old paint, turpentine and gasoline. These can become combustible no matter where they are stored, and disposing of them when you’re finished using them is a home fire security must.
- Keep a fire prevention kit on each level of your home. The kit should contain a fire extinguisher, fire blanket and flashlight (specially designed to be used in smoke). Keep extra fire extinguishers in every bathroom cabinet for easy use.
A house fire can be devastating both physically and emotionally. The loss of your home and all your belongings can make you feel violated. You and your family will feel the effects of the loss for days, weeks, months even years to come. If you’ve endured a house fire, take things one day at a time to work through the loss and to bring about the best recovery process.
- Contact your homeowner’s insurance company. They can help you immediately. The adjuster will talk to you about your urgent benefits and choices and will guide you through the entire claim process from start to finish. Although it’s difficult following a house fire, try to remain as calm as possible.
- Take notes. Start a notebook and keep it with you at all times. Write down everything that is important or relevant. Use it to keep people’s names and phone numbers, and document all your conversations with your insurance company. House fires are devastating and overwhelming, and it’s likely you might not recall important conversations. Keeping a record of everything always helps.
- Find a place to stay. Often, your insurance policy may cover your living expenses while your home is being repaired after a house fire. Determine your best living arrangements, taking into consideration proximity to your children’s school and the amount of room you need, including for pets. While the arrangement is temporary, it can take several months or more to get back to normal, so choose a place where you can stay for many months if necessary.
- Save what you can. Depending on the severity of the house fire, this may not be possible. Try to go through the ruins to find remnants of anything that you can retrieve and save. You may find that what hasn’t been burned is now ruined by smoke or water damage. Get a storage unit to keep any of your possessions until you determine what to do with them. Prevention is best—fireproof safes will save your precious belongings in case of a house fire.
- Catalog your losses. This may be one of the most difficult assignments you’ve ever had to complete. Not only is it difficult to remember everything you own, but it’s also emotionally draining to pour over all your possessions in your mind.
- Be aware of scammers. You may start getting phone calls from all sorts of people and businesses who claim they want to help you; however, they merely capitalize on house fires. All of your requests should be handled through your insurance company to avoid being ripped off during this vulnerable time.
- Hire a public adjuster. If you have encountered extensive damage after a house fire, you may want to get assistance. A public adjuster will work with you to help catalog your damages and losses. You can then work with your insurance adjuster to come to a proper settlement.
- Get repair estimates. This can be a long and tedious process. Start by getting the names of various reputable local businesses that take care of the items you need repaired. The repair or replacement may depend on how much damage was sustained.
- Get support from family and friends. Whether you need material support, financial support or moral support, your friends and family will be there to help you. Don’t feel like you have to go it alone, and don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need now. People empathize with you—a house fire is indeed a devastating event.
- Have patience. Sometimes insurance settlements can take three to nine months. In the meantime, try to keep updated with your adjuster weekly to help keep things moving along.
- Take care of yourself and your family. Get and give the emotional support needed. A house fire can have a damaging and lasting effect on everyone in the home, including the kids. Spend some time with a therapist to come to terms with the loss.
Your neighborhood fire department provides protection for you and your family in case of a fire or other emergency. Your local fire department provides community fire safety to help keep you safe. Local firefighters are trained to provide the highest level of support in fighting fires and saving lives, and they are continuously offering the community firefighter safety tips.
Community fire safety begins with your local fire department. The local fire department distributes firefighter safety tips to help ensure that every neighborhood is safe. Firefighters have events where the community is invited to come and learn more about fire safety. They take every opportunity available to educate everyone, from children to adults, about firefighter safety tips. In fact, some departments give out free smoke alarms to local residents.
Some fire departments put on CPR classes, as well as drug awareness programs. They do a lot more than simply put out fires; they clean up leaks and spills, help extricate car accident victims and assist with carbon monoxide emergencies. The men and women of your local fire department go through rigorous training and stay in good physical condition to dedicate themselves to the safety of their community.
Here are some of the top firefighter safety tips:
- Install smoke detectors in all areas of your home. Most serious injuries and deaths occur when there are no working smoke detectors to alert the family in case of a fire.
- Test smoke alarms monthly and replace batteries each year to ensure they are in good working condition.
- Keep fire extinguishers in every room of the home. Ensure that the fire extinguisher in the kitchen is rated for grease fires. Don’t throw water on a grease fire, as this will only spread it. If you’re unsure of your extinguisher’s rating, take it to your nearby department for additional firefighter safety tips.
- Make a family fire safety plan. This includes talking with your family about what to do in case of an emergency. If the entire community participates in a plan, you have each contributed to community fire safety.
- Map your exits. When a fire occurs, the electricity goes out and the home can be dark and filled with thick smoke. This makes escape difficult. Know where the exits are and which ones to use if there is a fire.
- Practice your escape. As a family, practice by conducting your own fire drill. Set a specific place away from the home to meet, such as in front of a particular tree. Designate a relative to call in case anyone gets separated.
- Don’t keep flammable items in the home. Dispose of products such as gasoline and turpentine properly.
- Keep matches and lighters away from children. These items can quickly cause severe burns and can also start a fire. These are one of the most important firefighter safety tips that children will learn in school, but talk about it continuously—even before they begin grade school.
- Don’t overuse electrical sockets and extension cords. Overloading sockets and extension cords can lead to fire. Make sure extension cords have been UL tested for safety.
- Wear flame retardant sleepwear. If there is a fire, pajamas that aren’t treated can catch on fire and cause severe skin burns when material fuses to skin.
- Take care when using space heaters. Don’t use kerosene space heaters indoors and never use space heaters near bedding or curtains that can catch on fire.
- If your home is on fire, don’t exit immediately. Before opening any doors, feel them first. If they are extremely hot, do not open them. When exiting the home, stay low to the ground where the smoke is less thick. Hold a wet towel over your mouth and nose to help filter the smoke. Wrap yourself in a fire blanket before leaving.
- When using the fireplace, make sure that the fire is completely out before going to bed. Don’t leave lit candles burning without supervision.
- Never go back into a burning home for any reason. Many people have lost their lives by returning to their home for pets or valuables.