Experiencing a fire in your home is unfortunately not an uncommon occurrence. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments responded to a fire every 23 seconds in 2020 in the United States. Their 2021 Home Structure Fires report also showed that house fires caused an average of 2,620 civilian deaths and $7.3 billion in direct property damage.
Further, the same report revealed that the leading causes of home fires include cooking, heating, electrical distribution, and lighting equipment. These are all essential parts of our daily lives.
The good news is that there are preventative measures you can take to protect yourself from becoming another statistic. Should you ever have to face the tragic event of finding your property in flames, there are also fire safety tips you can follow to minimize the damage and ensure everyone’s safety.
Try To Extinguish the Fire Before It Spreads
In some cases, you may still be able to control a flame before it spreads and becomes life-threatening. For example, if a pan on the stove or an overheating appliance has just started catching fire, grabbing and using your fire extinguisher can help protect yourself and your property from a destructive blaze.
Operating fire extinguishers is fairly simple if you keep the PASS acronym in mind:
- PULL the pin.
- AIM low, pointing at the base of the fire.
- SQUEEZE the lever or top handle.
- SWEEP the nozzle from side to side until the fire is out.
With all of this, remember to leave the scene immediately if the fire extinguisher fails to control the flames.
Alert Everyone and Get Them Out
It’s a good idea to shout to alert everyone of the situation instead of assuming they’re already aware. Sometimes, smoke detectors and alarms can malfunction because of missing, drained, or disconnected batteries.
On top of that, help as many people vacate the premises as possible. Remember these fire safety tips as you escape:
- Do not delay escaping to look for and save valuables.
- Do not stop to investigate the cause and source of the fire.
- When finding your way out, remember to open only the doors you need and close them once you’re through. Doing so helps slow the spread of fire.
- Do not run around if your clothes catch fire, as doing so will only fan the flames.
Stay Close to the Ground
During a fire event, smoke and poisonous gasses released into the air can cause you to become lightheaded or lose consciousness. To make it out of your home safely, remember to crawl and stay as close to the ground as possible. You’ll inhale less smoke this way since smoke naturally rises, and the freshest air remains close to the floor.
Covering your nose with a damp cloth also helps protect you from the health effects of smoke exposure.
Check Doorknobs for Heat
Escaping a fire-affected building may require you to pass through different rooms to reach the exit. While you should do this as quickly as you can, it’s crucial that you check doorknobs for heat first before opening any door.
Use the back of your hand to feel a doorknob or the higher part of a door. If it feels hot, a fire may be raging on the other side, so it’s best to leave it closed. Place wet clothing or towels on the cracks in the door to keep the smoke out and find another exit.
Run to Safety and Call for Help
Once you’ve made your way out of the building, it’s best to stay as far away from the perimeter as possible. This is because parts like your roof or siding may catch fire, collapse, and still pose a danger to you, even when you’re already outside.
After retreating to safety, make sure to call 911 immediately. If you didn’t manage to save your phone, ask to borrow a neighbor’s phone to alert the authorities of your property fire. Send them your address and stay in touch with them in case they need more information.
Never Go Back Inside
While the firefighters do their job, find a safe place for you and your family to stay. If someone has been trapped inside, never attempt to go back into the building to save them. Instead, wait for the fire and rescue authorities to arrive and tell them about the situation. Letting the experts do their job not only helps save the trapped individual faster but also keeps you from putting your own life in danger.
The Next Step: Fire Damage Restoration
While prevention is still the best fire safety tip, knowing what you need to do in case of a house fire is equally critical. Fire can become overwhelming and disastrous within a few seconds, so putting these pointers into practice can help you make it through the incident in one piece.
Now that you know what to do during a fire, ensure you’re prepared for any disaster that may come your way by learning more about fire and smoke damage cleanup. Check out the second part of this blog, where we list the essential items that must make it into your home fire damage restoration and cleanup checklist.