Over 1 million house fires happen each year in the United States and account for over 3,000 deaths. In fact, four out of five deaths due to fires occur in homes. While this is a tragic statistic, many of these deaths would be preventable if fire safety equipment was available or working properly in the home.
Most fire-related deaths aren’t attributed to burning, but smoke inhalation. This means that the quicker you and your family can get away from the smoke and flames, the less likely it will be that you’ll be overcome by the smoke. However, to do that, you need to be prepared ahead of time.
These are a few things that can help protect you and your family if a fire breaks out in your home:
- Escape plan — Families should discuss an escape plan for each member of the family, including backup plans in case the initial plan isn’t safe. Have your family practice going through proposed escape plans from their bedrooms and other areas of the home. Establish a meeting place where family members can meet after they exit the home. Deciding on a location to meet can help family members know whether someone is missing following an emergency or not.
- Smoke detectors — To escape a fire, you need to first be aware that a fire is happening. The most important item you can have in your home is a smoke detector in every room. These devices are the first thing that can tell you if something is wrong. One of the biggest reasons people don’t make it out of their homes in time is that smoke detectors are broken or have been disarmed. You should never disable your smoke detector. Additionally, you should check your smoke detectors once a month to make sure they are working correctly. If they aren’t, you should replace the batteries, or replace the whole alarm if changing the batteries doesn’t work.
- Fire extinguishers — Fire extinguishers are useful to have in case a small fire breaks out in the home. However, you should only use the fire extinguisher if the fire is contained and easy to put out. Otherwise, you should exit the house and call 911 and wait for firefighters to come put out the fire. Make sure that your fire extinguishers are located in areas like the kitchen, which are more prone to fires. Also, you should make sure family members know how to operate the fire extinguisher if they need to use it.
- Escape ladders — Escape ladders are useful if your home has bedrooms in the basement or above ground level. These ladders can provide easier methods of escape for people on those levels and increase their chances of getting out safely. You should make sure the occupants of the rooms the ladders are stored in know how to operate them and have practice exiting the house using them.
With careful planning, you can be prepared if a fire does break out in your home.