In the event of a fire, every second counts.
In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It takes only minutes for a house to fill with black smoke and become engulfed in flames. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), fire claims the lives of 3,275 Americans and injures well over 15,575 people annually. Being prepared and having a plan in place can save precious seconds, and a few seconds could save lives in the event of a fire.
Before a fire
General safety is of course important, there is no better way to handle a fire than prevention. Most electric fires start in the bedroom, and many avoidable fires are caused by overloading circuits
or the misuse of electric cords. Installing smoke alarms on every level of your home and testing them regularly can be key in alerting you in the event that a fire should start, keep in mind to replace
the entire unit every eight to 10 years.
Developing and practicing a fire escape plan is the best way to protect your family from becoming injured in a fire. Ideally you should be able to identify two exits from each room, in case one exit is blocked by the fire. It is even recommended that you practice feeling your way out of each room with your eyes closed. Establish a meeting place outside of the home where everyone knows to go once they are safely out.
During a fire
In the "heat" of the moment, there will likely be a lot of information to take in while enacting your escape plan. Do not waste any time trying to save your personal property, take the safest exit route, and if you must escape through smoke, crawl low under the smoke and cover your mouth. When coming to a closed door, use the back of your hand to feel the top of the door, the doorknob and the crack between the door and the frame to make sure that the fire is not directly outside. If the door feels hot, use the secondary exit. If the door feels cool, brace yourself against it and open it slowly.
After a fire
Along with a plan for how to handle an active fire, you should also prepare for after a fire. If possible, keep documentation of the contents of your home before a fire occurs. Keep your inventory & photos outside home or in the cloud, store key documents in the cloud or fireproof case, and include a copy of your insurance policy. A great tip from recent years is to use your smartphone to video your belongings. Whatever method you chose, mention the price you paid, where and when you bought the item, and if possible, save receipts (especially for large ticket items).
Make sure your policy reflects the correct square footage and features in your home. Understand if you have a replacement cost policy that pays to replace all your items at current market price or an actual cash value policy that takes depreciation into account, we write policies to include replacement cost at every opportunity at our agency. Update us on any changes you have made, so the new countertops or floors are included in the estimated cost to rebuild your house.
For more in depth information related to fires we have prepared a document you can download here.