Home Fire Safety
Home fires cause thousands of serious injuries and preventable deaths each year. Home fires account for only 27% of all fires, yet they cause 79% of fire-related deaths and 73% of reported injuries. Home fires are extremely dangerous and could prove fatal if your family does not know how to properly respond to the emergency. Practice proactive fire safety in your home for the best odds of preventing a fire or escaping one unscathed.
Active fire prevention is critical to the safety of your home and family. Almost all home fires are preventable. A few general safety tips and vigilance on the part of the homeowner could stop a fire from starting. Knowing what to look for and how to keep your home as fire-safe as possible could prevent a disastrous or deadly house fire.
- Spot and eliminate fire hazards. Faulty equipment, old space heaters, excessive waste or clutter, dangerous appliances, unsupervised cooking, electrical problems, and smoking materials are all common causes of house fires.
- Check your fire alarms. Check your fire alarms and fire extinguishers regularly to make sure they work and have not expired. Smoke alarms can help you detect flames early enough to escape a burning house.
- Have an escape plan. Create an evacuation plan ahead of time and practice it at least twice per year with your family. Every member of the family should know the fastest way out of the house in case of a fire.
Prevention and preparation can make an enormous difference in the safety of your family when it comes to home fires. Establish a family evacuation plan in case of a fire, install smoke detectors on each floor of your home, teach kids how to call 911, and make sure everyone knows how to stop, drop and roll.
While preventing a fire is always the best-case scenario, it is important to also know how to safely and effectively respond to one. If a fire starts in your home, try to use a fire extinguisher to put the flames out. If this does not work, evacuate the home promptly. Yell “Fire!” loudly several times so your family is aware of what is happening. Help children evacuate if it is safe for you to do so. Feel door handles for heat – signs of a fire in the other room – before opening them. Use your second way out if flames have blocked your primary exit. If you have to escape through smoke, stay low to the ground as you move toward the exit.
Get everyone out of the house right away and stay out. Never return inside a burning home for any possessions, pets or people. Meet at your preplanned evacuation spot and call 911 to request emergency assistance for an out-of-control house fire. If you are stuck inside, call 911 and close the doors to the room you are in. Place a wet towel under all the doors. Open a window and wave something brightly colored to flag down help. If your clothes catch on fire, immediately stop what you are doing, drop to the ground, and roll back and forth until you extinguish the flames. Running will only make the flames worse.
The aftermath of a devastating house fire can feel overwhelming. You and your family members might have no place to live, along with tending to burn injuries or tragic losses of life. If you suffered any burns, seek medical care right away to avoid infections. When the fire department clears you, return to the house to take photographs of the property damage. Then, file a claim with your homeowners insurance company in pursuit of monetary recovery.
If you have trouble negotiating with the insurance provider or obtaining fair compensation for your significant losses, hire an attorney to help you with your claim. Your insurance company may be acting in bad faith. A fair settlement check could help you and your family move forward after a fire-related disaster.