With families working, studying and staying at home more than ever in 2020, it’s important to make sure your home is safe in the event of a fire. Most people don’t like to think about it ever happening to them—but according to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments respond to over 350,000 house fires in the U.S. each year. The leading cause of house fires? Cooking, a very common household activity.
Four Tips for Fire Safety
Did you know that if a fire starts in your home you may have as little as two minutes to escape? The good news is—early warnings from a working smoke alarm plus a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives. That’s why it’s so important to review this helpful checklist from the American Red Cross for fire safety with four simple steps.
- Smoke alarms: Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
- Test alarms regularly: The Red Cross recommends you test your home’s smoke alarms every month. If you haven’t been, no worries. Now is the perfect time to check them. If they’re not working, change the batteries or replace any broken smoke detectors.
- Make a plan: Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan (here’s a template you can use) and practice your escape plan twice a year. October is a great time before you get ready to be indoors more during the colder months.
- GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL FOR HELP: This is a good reminder to have on your fire escape plan. If a fire ever occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL FOR HELP. Never go back inside for anything or anyone. When firefighters arrive, make sure to let them know immediately if you have a family member or pet inside, so they can rescue them with appropriate fire protection gear. Don’t forget to review the steps for if clothing catches fire STOP, DROP and ROLL with everyone your family.
Tips for Families with Kids
Other important safety tips to keep in mind include educating kids about the importance of fire safety and fire-proofing your home for little ones. Keep matches and lighters out of reach and use lighters with child-resistant features. The Red Cross also recommends investing in flameless candles that glow with a light bulb instead of an open flame—taking away the danger out of kids knocking over a candle. Other home options include using quick-release devices on barred windows and doors, and getting escape ladders for sleeping areas on the second or third floor. Practice using them—and store them near the windows.
Tips for Families with Pets
Have a fur baby or more than one? The Red Cross offers additional helpful tips for families with pets, like including your pets in your family’s fire escape plan and practicing with them. Also pet proof your home for fire dangers by never leaving curious pets around any open flames, removing stove knobs they can reach while you’re away, investing in flameless candles and securing young pets using crates or baby gates.
Firefighters also recommend taking some precautionary steps in case there is ever a fire at your home and your pet is inside to make it easier to rescue them. These include always keeping collars on pets and leashes at the ready. When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them. You can also get a pet alert window cling—writing down the number of pets inside your house and attach it to a front window. Keep it updated regularly. This is a great tool that helps save rescuers time when locating pets if needed.
Review additional fire safety and prevention tips, including helpful information specific to the holidays when fireplaces, cooking, candles and fireworks can increase fire dangers, from the Red Cross here.