During the years 2011-2015 Firefighters responded to an average of 358,500 house fires each of those years. Each year, approximately 2500 people lost their lives in homes that caught fire and the average yearly damage caused by house fires during those years was 6.7 billion dollars. (source)
So not only are house fires costly in terms of lives and money, but they are different than they used to be! Because of the engineered wood in today’s homes and the materials used in and on furniture today, the average house occupant has only 2-3 MINUTES to get out of a burning house before it is engulfed or collapses on top of you! Contrast that with how thirty years ago the average person had 15-17 minutes to get out of a house before it would fall in on them!
Wow! Being prepared for a fire and knowing how to instinctively respond is a whole lot more important now than it used to be.
10 Tips to Prepare Your Family for a Possible Fire
1.) Change the batteries in smoke and CO2 detectors twice a year
It used to be recommended to just check the batteries in your smoke detectors twice a year – usually at the time change. Now with us only having an average of 2-3 minutes to escape a fire, don’t just check the current functionality of your batteries in your smoke detectors, CHANGE THEM. This could be life-saving.
2.) Sleep with doors shut
This video is five minutes long – it could very well save your life – even if you just watch the first two minutes of it!
3.) Keep a fire extinguisher on each floor
Fire extinguishers don’t have to be really expensive. I recently found a two-pack of fire extinguishers at Costco for $16 total! Keep one in either your kitchen or your bathroom on each floor.
4.) Store flammable items/foods/chemicals properly and away from potential flames
There are a lot of liquids in your house. Some of those liquids of which you may be unaware are highly flammable. What’s interesting in that there are also a lot of flammable items in your kitchen – the room where we most often have an open fire. Whether it is flammable liquids or other items we need to be aware that they are easily combustible so that they can be stored away from any significant flame or potential flame sources. Here are some of the flammable items including liquids which you may find in your house.
- Nail polish
- Nail polish remover
- Aerosol hairspray
- Wood stains – including linseed oil
- Paint thinner
- Hand sanitizer
- Stain removers
- Rubbing alcohol
- Nondairy creamer – I know. Really? Yep!
- Gasoline – duh!
- Flour – at allows flames to spread FAST. Keep it away from your stovetop when you’re cooking. Don’t believe me? Check this out.
- Drinking alcohols
5.) Walk through your house (with your kids if you have them) and look for 2 ways out of each room.
Each room needs to have two ways out of it. If you actually walk through your house either by yourself or with your kids (if you have them) and find two ways out of a room.
Two places that are difficult to get out of sometimes are basements and second floors. In your basement, look for half windows. Can you fit out of it? If not, you seriously may need to consider having an egress window installed.
If someone has a second-floor bedroom, their only option to escape a fire may be their door or their window. I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on having my children jump from their second story windows. I doubt you do either, so make sure that you have a fire escape ladder in EACH bedroom! But don’t stop there. Teach them how to use the ladders. If you have a reusable fire escape ladder, please do practice deploying it.
6.) Have your kids draw up a fire exit plan.
If you give each of your kids a basic outline of each floor of your house and have them mark all the ways out of each room, you are reinforcing the different ways in which they can escape a fire if they were caught in one.
7.) Have fire drills
Have you ever purposefully set off a fire alarm in your house so your family can practice getting out of the house – no matter what they are doing – in less than 2 minutes? If you really want to be surprised by it – give your friend permission to call between the hours of – and – and have them say, “Fire drill!” You go set off a fire alarm and have your kids practice.
8.) Establish a meeting place outside your house
Before you run a fire drill or have an actual fire, you should have a predetermined meeting place away from your house to meet. This way you aren’t wondering if everyone got out because some went to the backyard and some went to the front yard. Make sure the place is far enough away from your house so that you aren’t in danger by waiting for others there.
9.) Everyone knows your address and how to call 911
Everyone in your house from three or four years old and older should know your address and how to call 911. You
obviously can’t actually let kids push the buttons on the phone, but find ways to practice letting them call and let them practice saying what they need to.
Make sure you teach your kids that if they catch on fire that they are to stop, drop, and roll. Let them practice and I bet they will have a ball – except the teenagers which will look at you like they are above all this.
What About You?
Do you have any other tips on how to prepare your family for a potential fire? I’d love to hear, and I’m sure everyone else here would benefit from it as well. Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.
Together let’s Love, Learn, Practice, and Overcome
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