Prepping for a fire is just as important as what you do if there is a fire. According to the American Red Cross, a person only has an average of two minutes to get out of a burning building safely.
That’s not very long! So make the most of your precious time by following our four tips below.
#1: How to Fireproof Your Home
Fireproofing your home starts with smoke alarm maintenance. Here are a few tips on making sure your smoke alarms are up to snuff:
- Check your smoke alarms every month to make sure they’re working
- Change the batteries on your fire alarms if they’re not
- Make sure your smoke alarms are on every level of your house
- Install smoke alarms outside of sleeping areas if they’re not there already
- Teach children how smoke alarms sound and what to do if they hear one
After you’ve prepped your alarms, it’s time to prep your family. Twice a year, revisit your family’s fire safety plan. That includes:
- Teaching everyone to STOP, DROP, and ROLL if their clothes catch fire
- Acting out your family’s fire plan
- Making sure that everyone knows to call 911 right away
Finally, don’t forget that if your home catches fire, everything could change in a matter of minutes. Having and knowing how to use a fire extinguisher could mean the difference between saving your home or losing it. So it’s wise to invest in buying and learning how to use one now!
#2: What to Do if a Fire Starts
If a fire starts you must first yell “fire!”, and get out of your home immediately if it’s spreading quickly. Once you’re out, call 911.
A small fire can sometimes be quenched by throwing a wet towel or blanket on it. But that also depends on what kind of fire you’re dealing with. Knowing how to handle different kinds of fire can mean containing the fire or spreading it. For example, you shouldn’t use water to put out an electrical or a grease fire! We explain those exceptions below.
#3: If the Fire is in the Kitchen
If something catches fire in your oven or microwave, simply close the door and turn off the oven or the microwave. Fire feeds on oxygen and while having the door closed doesn’t cut off all oxygen, it limits it, which could help the fire go out on its own. Likewise, if something in a pan catches fire, grab the pan’s lid and clamp it down on top of the pan.
Remember the old adage: water and oil don’t mix? That’s true of grease fires too! If a grease fire flares up, grab some baking soda and apply a LOT of it to the fire. Baking soda will absorb the oil and put out the fire, whereas water won’t mix with the oil and could cause the fire to spit out onto other surfaces, causing the fire to spread.
Any fire in the kitchen can also be easily handled with a fire extinguisher. After you’ve contained the fire, call 911.
#4: If the Fire is Electrical or Gas
The best way to contain an electrical or gas fire is to immediately shut off the supply of gas or electricity. An electrical fire may be smothered with your fire extinguisher or a clean and nonflammable blanket. Don’t use water with these fires because water is a conductor for electricity and could cause the fire to spread!
Gas fires may be smothered with a really thick rug or doused in water after you’ve shut off the gas supply line. Then, call 911.
What to Do After a Fire
No matter what kind of fire you’re dealing with, you must call 911 immediately after you’ve either contained the fire or gotten safely out of the house.