What Should You Do When there is a Fire? (Don’t Sing Kumbaya)
Experiencing a fire is a frightening thing. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention home fires are the third leading cause for deaths that happen at home. In many cases if people had known what to do when a fire broke out, they would still be alive today. When a fire breaks out the last thing you want to do is hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya’, or toast up some s’mores. By forming a fire emergency plan and knowing some simple safety facts, you can help to protect your family from an agonizing death in the flames.
Form an Escape Route
Just ask any fire damage restoration company what percentage of their customers had a pre-planned fire escape strategy before their home was engulfed in flames, and you will be shocked to learn that virtually nobody had one. People don’t anticipate fires, and therefore they don’t prepare for them. But a fire can happen at any time due to a number of circumstances that range from a spreading wildfire to a kitchen appliance disaster.
When mapping out your escape route make sure it is through an area free from obstructions. Ensure there are no rugs or steps that could cause you to trip. Every family member should be aware of the route, and it should be practiced at least once every 4 months (once every 2 months if you have younger children). If you have pets, assign the most responsible and capable family members to grab that pet before evacuating. Your practiced escape plan should be timed with the goal to get a better score. Having an escape plan will help you and your family members stay focused and organized—two things that will help save your lives.
What if the Fire Blocks my Escape?
In the event you can’t go through a door, don’t panic; there are a number of things you can do that will help in preventing exposure to flames or smoke. If you are trapped in a room, take some clothing or blankets and cram them under the door—this will help to prevent smoke from entering. It will also help prevent the fire from spreading into the room, as fire needs oxygen to thrive and if the oxygen supply flowing under the door is plugged up, you have a better fighting chance to make it out alive. Go to the nearest window and lift it. If the room is already filled with smoke crawl along the floor and open it carefully. The fresh air will help you breath and will allow you to alert neighbors to call 911. If you are in immediate danger and the flames are already in the room and you are on the second story, throw pillows, cushions, or anything soft that will reduce the force of the impact when you jump. It is rare that falling from a two-story room will result in death unless you hit your head. Therefore when you jump warp your arms around your head and try to fall sideways while going limp. You may get a sprain or a broken bone, but you won’t burn to death.
What to do After a Fire
Once you and your family members have been safely evacuated and the fire department has been alerted, call a local fire damage restoration service to come out and begin the task of restoring your home. Most established damage restoration businesses will work with your insurance company while team members engage in water cleanup from the fire department hoses, restore the burned portions of the home, and rid your property of smoke and odors.
Do not hesitate when it comes to evacuating a home fire; your personal items are not worth risking your life over. Most fire damage companies also restore things like family heirlooms, art work, furniture and other possessions in the home. Just get out safely, and leave the rest up to the pros!