Each year, more than 4,000 Americans die and more than 25,000 are injured in fires, many of which could be prevented. Following these safety precautions and preparing for a possible home fire can dramatically shorten the amount of time it takes to reach safety.
Most house fires happen between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. This means you are likely to be asleep, making it even more important that you know how to react in order to save yourself and your family since you won’t have much time to plan your escape.
If you notice smoke, drop to the floor and begin to crawl to the exit nearest you. The smoke and heat will rise to the ceiling. With luck, you’ll be able to stay where the air is cool and clear.
Install and Test Smoke Alarms
Some tools are needed beforehand in order to survive a fire. Homes should be outfitted with a smoke and fire alarm. These alarms will alert you to the presence of a fire, giving more time to escape. Homes should have fire extinguishers on hand, and those living in the home should know how to use them. Sleeping with doors closed will help because they can prevent a fire from spreading into the room.
Have a Family Escape Plan
If you have children, work out an escape plan. Chances are any fire will start while they’re sleeping and you may not have the opportunity to tell them what to do. They need to know what to do, and they’ll only know if they’ve practiced it. Plus, when children panic they look for places to hide, like a closet or under the bed. They need to know how to get out of the house, and how to do it, by crawling to the nearest exit.
Beware of Hot Doors
Hot doors mean that the fire is nearby and the door should not be opened. Check for heat before touching a door. The best way to do this is to feel the top of the door with the back of your hand, so you don’t burn the palm of your fingers.
If the door is hot, don’t open it. Doors can keep out smoke, even more so if you can put a blanket or clothing along the bottom. Head for the window. If you can’t get out, find a way to signal your presence, with nearby items such as a flashlight or white sheet.
Make Firefighters Aware of Pets
Placing stickers on windows to alert firefighters that pets are in a home will help save their lives. Firefighters have the obligation of protecting people and property first, but will save pets if possible. Since animals can become easily confused during an emergency, leashes should always be kept in the same place so they can quickly be located during the rush to evacuate a burning home.