According to FEMA, each year more than 2,500 people die and 12,600 are injured in home fires in the United States, with direct property loss due to home fires estimated at $7.3 billion annually. This is particularly sad when we know that many home fires can be prevented.
To protect yourself and your family, it is helpful to understand a few basic characteristics of fire. First of all, it spreads rapidly; there is not an extra minute to gather valuables or make a 911 call. A fire can become life-threatening in just two minutes. In five minutes, a fast moving fire can have a residence completely engulfed in flames. Secondly, it’s not just the flames that are dangerous. Heat and smoke from a fire can be even more deadly than the flames. Inhaling super-heated air can sear your lungs, damaging them severely. And the poisonous gases produced by fire can make you disoriented and drowsy, so drowsy that instead of being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a deeper sleep. And did you know that asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths? That alone kills 3 times more people than burns.
Here are some things you should do BEFORE a fire strikes.
Create a Plan and Practice
In the event of a fire, remember that every second counts. Make sure you and your family are always prepared with a plan to get out of your home quickly. Practice your plan at least twice a year, more often if you have made any changes (remodeling, room additions, new windows, security bars, etc.).
Some tips to consider when preparing this plan include:
- Find two ways to get out of every room. If the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need another way out. It could be a window onto a roof, or a collapsible ladder from upper story windows. NOTE: make sure your collapsible ladder is approved by a nationally recognized testing company like Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
- Check that windows are not painted in or stuck, screens come out quickly, and that any security bars can be easily opened. If you have security bars, be sure they have a quick release device and show everyone how it works.
- Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
- Agree on a meeting place a safe distance from the home. Include this in your practice drill.
- Sleep with your bedroom door closed. Should you smell smoke, feel the door for heat. If it’s hot use another exit.
- Teach children not to hide from firefighters.
Lastly, ask your local fire department to come out and inspect your residence for fire safety and prevention. Most are happy to do this. For more ways to protect your family, go to http://www.ready.gov/home-fires
At Freedom Insurance we are all about safety, so we hope this post was helpful for you as you keep yourself and your loved ones safe at home. Let us know if this was helpful in the comments below. Thank you for your business!