Fires can spread quickly, and within minutes, a home can be engulfed in flames. Approximately 2,500 people die annually in house fires, and 12,600 are injured in the United States alone. The most common fires are a result of cooking, baseboard and space heating, smoking, electrical malfunctions, and arson.
Heat and smoke from the fire are more dangerous than the flames themselves, and the speed at which fires can spread leaves no time to do anything but evacuate. When a fire is overtaking your home, it is hot & dark, and you can’t see because of the blinding smoke, while smoke inhalation makes it hard to think straight.
Before you get started preparing your supplies, create a fire escape plan and practice it with your family. It is recommended to practice your evacuation twice a year.
Here are some key fire safety supplies to ensure that your family is prepared in the event of a home fire.
- Smoke Alarms. Approximately 60% of house fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. Dual sensor alarms can monitor for ionization and photoelectric smoke. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home, including the basement, and inside and outside of every sleeping area. Smoke alarms can also come with a strobe light for the hearing impaired, as well as a strobe light outside the home to alert neighbors.
- Fire Extinguishers. Most home fires start in the kitchen, so it is extremely important that every home have a fire extinguisher where cooking takes place. If your home is multilevel, you should have an additional extinguisher on each level of the house. If there are other heat sources in your house, you should have one near there as well.
- Collapsible Ladders. Make sure that collapsible ladders are available for all upstairs rooms. When choosing ladders for your home, look for one that will deploy quickly, is strong, tangle free, and easy to use.
- Whistles. These are good to keep in each room so that family members and fire fighters can easily locate children. Blowing a whistle can help you to be found despite the billowing smoke and can be louder than shouting.
- Fire Blankets. Accidents can happen like a pet knocking something flammable over onto a burner. In cases where the fire is small, blanket made of fire-retardant material can be thrown over the fire to extinguish it. Fire blankets can also be used to pull over yourself as you evacuate to avoid any possibility of getting burnt by the flames.
- First Aid Kit. Every house should have a first aid kit, not only for cuts and burns. Having a first aid kit on hand can help stabilize someone who has been injured until further help can arrive.
- Fireproof Safe. Keep key items and documents stored in a fireproof safe in your home. Important papers that should be stores in here include birth certificates, social security cards, marriage certificate, insurance information, vehicle title information and mortgage information.
In addition to these items, the best way to be prepared is to practice safety at home at all times. Follow these tips to assist in the prevention of fires in your home:
- Stay in the kitchen while cooking and check all food regularly, establishing a habit of using timers to remind you that food is cooking. Anything that can catch on fire, like pot holders, loose clothes, and towels, should be kept away from the cooking area.
- Teach kids that fire is a tool, and not used for play. Matches and lighters should be kept out of reach, and ovens and candles should not be left unattended with children around.
- Smoke outside. Many home fires that occur as a result of smoking materials start inside the home. Do not smoke in bed or on furniture. Chairs and sofas can catch fire easily, and can burn fast. As always, if you’ve been drinking, sleepy, or you are on medicine that makes you drowsy, do not smoke.
- Practice electrical and appliance safety. Regularly check for frayed wires and replace them. Use caution when using space heaters and take care to ensure that nothing combustible or flammable is nearby.
While there are no guarantees and accidents do happen, these tips will help your family to use caution and be prepared if a fire does occur in your home.