Fire survival occurs before the first signs of smoke
It’s the dead of night. Something wakes you from a deep sleep. It sounds like popcorn. Is someone in the house? Now you are alert. You grab your phone, open the door and head for the sound. It’s coming from the kitchen. At the same time, the smoke hits you AND the smoke alarms go off. Now is the time to act, and improving your survival comes from thinking about what you need to do….long BEFORE it happens.
Learn from the experts
Do a review of your situation now. Here are links to two great sources:
Install and maintain equipment
This includes smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and proper fire extinguishers all in the proper places and all in working order.
The top causes of home fires are cooking, heating, electrical, smoking and candles. Knowing this, you can reduce the risk of fire by creating an awareness trigger when engaging in these areas. For example:
- Know how to handle different types of cooking fires both inside and outside.
- Know where shut off valves are for gas.
- Unplug when not using electrical devices.
- Never smoke inside.
- Only buy candles enclosed in glass.
Have an escape plan and practice it!
When a fire occurs, you have two minutes to get out. Create a plan, provide two methods of escape, and practice the plan every six months. Know where you are going to meet so everyone is accounted for after you exit. This is especially important for kids as they may need to escape without your help. Also think about overnight guests and grandkids at sleepovers. This is where reviewing plans from experts can help.
Get out. Stay out. Call for help.
Make this your mantra when in the midst of a fire emergency.
Review this I wish list.
Hindsight is 20-20, and especially so when it comes to fires. Here are some tips from those who have gone through it:
I had a go bag. This is a small bag of essentials stored in your bedroom to grab if you need to leave in a hurry. It contains a change of clothes, coats, or other emergency items for the kids.
I had a good inventory. After the fire, you are going to spend a significant amount of time with insurance adjusters. Periodically review your policy and develop an inventory of your household items. Take videos, document models and ages of major appliances, autos, other equipment, and valuables.
I had a where to go plan. If you cannot return to your home, where will you stay? How will you pay for it? Figure this out ahead of time.
I had a remote backup of my computer and phone. Remote backups can be invaluable in getting you back up and running.
I had an emergency fund. It will take a while to get your life back in order. What if you need to take time off from work? Having 6 months of emergency funds can make all the difference as you recover from your disaster.
The purpose of this article is not to act as an expert in fire safety, but rather to help generate awareness in this often overlooked subject. If, however, you need expert advice with your financial and tax affairs as you navigate this or other disasters, please call for help.