There are not many things scarier in life than the thought of losing your loved ones in a tragedy as horrible as a fire. Many of us think we will know what to do in the event of an emergency when in reality most of us don’t know what to do in the heat of the moment (no pun intended).
In just two minutes a fire can become life treating while in five an entire home can be engulfed in flames. In order to prepare yourself, your family, and your house in the event that a fire does take place there are many things to consider. Do you have an evacuation plan that takes into consideration the number of occupants and the unique features of your building?
Are your children knowledgeable in fire preparedness? These just some of the things to think about when determining whether you can take the necessary steps during an emergency. By working with professionals and preparing your home you can lower the risks of fire hazards.
What To Do After A Fire
- Contact family members and loved ones to inform them of the incident and that you are OK. Depending on the severity of the fire you and your family may need to seek out medical attention.
- Find a safe place to stay, as it will not be safe to return to your home immediately.
- Contact a trusted fire restoration for home and kitchen fire damage and for Commercial Fire Damage you can call fire remediation service that is licensed and can help you with your needs. This can include arriving at the scene of the fire with essentials for the family to stabilizing the structurally damaged home.
- Call your utility providers (electric, gas, water, etc.) to inform them of the incident and request emergency shut-off service.
- Call your homeowners insurance to put the claims process into motion as this can be the most frustrating and time consuming part of the process. You will need to address your immediate needs at this time.
- Get permission from a fire department official to re-enter the home, as it may not be structurally sound and hazardous to return.
- Retrieve valuable belongings and heirlooms from the property if you are not returning home. Make sure the property is secure. You can further secure your property by contacting local law enforcement and notify them that your home will be vacant.
- Start the process of replacing important documents lost in the fire such as birth certificates, passports, etc.
- Understand and obtain a copy of your fire incident report. This will be valuable for your claim and future
- Document all fire damage for your insurance company. Take plenty of photographs and detailed notes of damage to your property and to yourself.
What Not To Do After A Fire
- Do not try to enter your home unless you have been given permission from your trusted fire remediation service or fire department that the structure is safe.
- Do no turn on gas, water, or electric utilities until a professional has deemed it safe to do so.
- Do not try to clean any of the damage yourself. Leave this to the fire restoration service that has experience and proper safety equipment.
Preparation and Prevention
You should also take into consideration what steps you should take in order to prevent a fire. Disaster can be avoided by implementing some relatively easy maintenance and preventative steps.
- Test Smoke Alarms According to the U.S Fire Administration (UFSA) smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month to ensure that the batteries are still operating. Make a habit of changing your batteries as often as you change your clocks. Twice a year.
- Keep the Stove and Oven Clear Never leave cooking unattended as this can create an obvious fire hazard. Food and grease residue can ignite and cause a fire so make sure to keep these surfaces clean. If you have a gas oven be sure you do not smell gas leaking. It is recommended to have CO2 sensors in the areas where you have gas appliances. Keep a fire extinguisher within reach in your kitchen.
Inspect Heating Sources According the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) heating equipment is a leading cause of fire in U.S homes with an estimated average 52,050 fires involving heating equipment each year in 2012-2016. It is recommended you allow at least three feet of space between your heating sources and anything that is flammable or could possibly burn. Check the labels on other appliances like dryers to ensure they are in safe working order. Have your chimney checked and cleaned by a professional once a year.
- Maintain Cords Inspect cords regularly for signs of fraying and wear. Try not use extension cords unless absolutely necessary. It is best to plug items directly into outlets, so you can arrange them to as close to the outlet as possible. It’s also best not to connect a series of shorter extension cords together. Do not leave cords where people can trip over them or pets can chew on them as this could pose another fire hazard.
- Candle Safety According to the NFPA, U.S fire departments responded to an estimated 8,200 home structure fires that were started by candles per year. Make sure that candles are out reach of children and that they extinguished before falling asleep. Falling asleep was a factor in 11% of the home candle fires. Combustible materials should not come close to a lit candle.
- Store Flammable Products Safely Avoid storing flammable liquids on high shelves or in direct sunlight Flammable liquids should also only be stored in Factory Manual (FM) approved safety cans. Many people make the mistake of storing flammable materials in a garage or room that isn’t ventilated. Such materials should be kept in in a well –ventilated room detached from the home, as flammable liquids are highly volatile.
- Educate Yourself and Your Family Take the time to review fire safety facts and tips with your family. There are many available resources online with which to help you share important fire and burn safety lessons.