According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 350,000 U.S. families are affected by house fires each year. From damage to the contents of your home, to completely writing off your residence, to the unimaginable injury or loss of pets or family members, the cost of a house fire can be significant—from both a monetary and emotional perspective. That’s why fire prevention should be a serious priority for your family. However, fire prevention experts say that many of us don’t take the following two simple steps that can prevent damage or loss of our personal property, pets, and loved ones due to a fire.
Step One: Prepare to Be Safe in the Event of Fire
One of the most important things you can do to minimize your chances of being a victim of a house fire is to be prepared not to experience a fire in the first place by not engaging in dangerous behaviors such as leaving candles or wood burning unattended, not smoking cigarettes in bed, and not allowing children to play with matches and lighters. In addition, make sure that any electrical work you have done in your home is done by a qualified electrician so that you don’t risk losing your home due to an electrical fire and keep a (working!) fire extinguisher in your kitchen and other high-traffic rooms in your home.
Step Two: Have Two Escape Routes Planned
The second step to keep your family safe from a house fire is to plan what you and your family should do in the event of an actual fire at your residence. While many people do create an escape plan for their family, they often map out just one exit. However, fire prevention experts say that you need to have a back-up plan, in case your first exit is impassable. You should also prepare and practice your fire escape plan twice a year with everyone in your household, including children and people with disabilities.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers these tips to help you create your escape plans:
- Draw a map of each level of your home and show all doors and windows. Find two ways to get out of each room. Make sure all doors and windows that lead outside open easily.
- Purchase collapsible escape ladders for upper floor exits (buy these only if they have been evaluated from a recognized testing laboratory). Use the ladder only in a real emergency.
- Teach children how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them.
- Have a plan for everyone in your home who has a disability.
- Practice your fire escape plan at night and during the daytime.
Prevention and preparation are two critical factors when it comes to keeping your home and family safe from a fire. Make sure your family is prepared by doing the “two-step” outlined above.
If you have any questions about how to protect yourself from any fire related losses of your personal property, please contact us for assistance.
About the Author:
Kara Dominique specializes in asset protection and risk management for our personal lines customers at Kemner Iott Benz. Kara is a resident of Tecumseh, MI, a member of the Zonta International Club Lenawee, and a graduate of the Lenawee United Way’s Emerging Leaders Program.