Prepare For A House Fire
Extremely dangerous, house fires can wreak havoc on a home in minutes. Taking the proper precautions to prevent a fire from starting can save your family and your home. The best way to do so is to prepare and educate your family. Prepare and practice an escape plan, be aware of possible flammables in your home, and protect your belongings.
Knowledge is key when its comes to being prepared for a house fire. Educating family members on what can happen in the event of a fire will help ensure all members take the right precautions as well as know what to do if a house fire were to happen. Understand what risks and damages come with a fire. Extreme heat, smoke inhalation, and burns are only a few of the physical infractions of a fire.
Planning and practicing an escape plan in your home
Because a fire can start quickly, it’s important to have an escape plan in place. Consider where you will go and how you can ensure your other family members are safe. For each room of your house, look for two possible exit strategies, if a large portion of your time is spent on a second floor level of your home, installing a collapsible ladder can act as a safety feature to escape from a second story.
During a fire, smoke inhalation can become an extreme danger. Thick black smoke is filled with toxins that can affect breathing. As smoke begins to fill the air it will also impact the ability to see by reducing light and visibility. To reduce smoke inhalation during a fire in your home, practice crawling low to the ground. Smoke will start at the ceiling and move down as it fills the space. When preparing your escape plan make sure that your window screens can easily be removed and safety bars detached for quick escape access. As mentioned above, smoke can darken spaces very quickly, it’s also a good idea to practice finding your escape routes in the dark and with your eyes closed. Remember as well to practice stop-drop-and-roll. By stopping, covering your face, dropping to the ground and rolling, you can potentially distinguish a fire on your clothes.
If you have pets make sure your escape plan includes multiple scenarios including your pet’s location throughout your home. Designate a safe place for your family to meet outside of the home, in the event of a fire this safety point will be where everyone can meet for a head count.
The best ways to prevent a fire in your home
Having properly operating smoke alarm systems in your home can drastically increase survival during a fire. It’s important to instal smoke detectors on all levels in your home. Test them monthly, by pressing the test button. If the test fails, try replacing the batteries, if this still does not work, replace the entire alarm. The alarm batteries should be replaced annually to ensure that they are running on full power. Replace your alarm unit ever 8 to 10 years. This age range can vary depending on the manufacturer. To confirm when your system needs to be replaced, check with the alarm’s warranty information booklet.
Investing in fire extinguishers for at least each level of your home can help diminish small contained fires, place each extinguisher in a room most likely to host a fire such as the kitchen, or living room with a fireplace.
And finally, a method to help prevent a fire from spreading is to keep doors closed including when you are sleeping. A closed door can slow the spreading of fires from room to room.
These simple steps can help prevent a fire from starting or can reduce the amount and speed that a fire can spread. By implementing these safety features and practices in your home you can potentially save lives in the event of a fire.
Home Insurance – Being ready in case of a fire
For insurance purposes, make sure to document all valuables in your home. We recommend using a camera to take video and pictures of each room in your house. Upload your digital files to a cloud based system, that way if your device is lost or destroyed during the accident, you will be able to easily provide information on what was lost. If you have valuable items like jewelry, consider investing in a fireproof safe. Talk to your insurance broker about the coverage options on your jewelry to provide peace of mind in case of an accident.
What can cause a fire in your home
During the winter months in Alberta, electrical heaters and fireplaces can be an increased fire hazard. When using either an electric heater, gas, electric, or wood burning fireplace, do not leave the room unattended. Make sure that no items near heat sources can catch fire. A house fire can spread quickly so it is important to be aware of the highly flammable objects in your home.
If you have a wood burning fireplace, place a screen in front to keep any sparks from leaping on to the floor or surrounding items. If your fireplace has a flue, remember to open it to allow proper ventilation throughout the home. Similar to an electric heater, power cords can pose a fire risk.
Before plugging in an electrical cord, check that there is no damage which could lead to sparks. And make sure to never have a cord underneath a rug. If a cord were frayed the rug covering the damage could potentially catch fire.
Candles are another open flame in your home. If you are lighting candles never leave them unattended or in a location where a child could reach them. A relatively inexpensive option to an open flamed candle is flameless candles. Available for purchase at many locations like dollar stores, craft stores, and department stores, flameless candles are a safe alternative that run off of batteries.
If you smoke in or near your home, it is important to ensure that your butts are completely out. We suggest filling your ashtray with sand, or soaking your butts in water. Inside your home, smoking in bed or on the couch can be dangerous if you are tired. If you have been drinking or take any medication that can cause drowsiness make sure your cigarette is fully out before falling asleep.
A large amount of home fires in Alberta are caused by cooking. When using the oven or stove top never leave the kitchen unattended. Taking extra precaution when cooking with oil by having a lid near your stove to cover any flames that could occur. If you are not immediately cooking or baking keep your oven and stove elements off, as well as directly after cooking its important to make sure they are turned off. Finally keep an eye on what you are cooking, items on high heat easily burn.
For more information on causes of house fires in Alberta, visit the reference table at the end of this blog.
What to do in case of a fire
In the event of a fire, remember to stay low to the ground to reduce smoke inhalation. If a closed door is in your path, feel the door and door knob for heat before opening it. This can indicate if there is a fire on the other side of the door. Before swinging a door open, open a small amount to check for flames and thick smoke. If either is the case, keep the door closed and use your second planned way out. In the case that there is no way to escape the room you are in, the best course of action is to seal any seams in the door with tape to reduce the amount of smoke being able to access the room. For a room that has a window, access it and use a light colored article of clothing as a flag to notify anyone outside of your location.
Call 911 immediately to notify emergency dispatch of the fire. Let them know the location of the fire and the amount of residents and animals in the home. In the event that your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll to distinguish the flame. If another person’s clothing has caught fire, smother the fire with a blanket or towel to reduce oxygen.
What to do after a house fire
Once you have reached your safe family meeting spot, it’s important that you do not re-enter the house. If needed, seek medical attention and wait for further instruction from the fire and rescue team. The fire department will let you know the severity of damage done to your home. Contact your insurance broker to notify them of the fire.
Once it is safe to re-enter your home you can assess the amount of damage and what loss was incurred. When doing an inventory count of your belongings make sure to not throw anything away until you are sure everything has been accounted for. Mentioned earlier, a list of your belongings can help when taking inventory. Digital files on a cloud can be retrieved and can assist in accounting for items that could have been perished. These pictures and videos are also an easy method of documentation to provide to an insurance company. As part of your claim, it is important to keep all receipts if you are staying away from your home because of damage.
A house fire can be incredibly devastating to your home and family. The above image shows house fire causes and losses in Alberta. Taking the proper safety precautions can prevent a fire from happening.