According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a quarter of the 27% of reported fires in the United States occurred in homes between 2013-2017. During this five-year period, the US fire departments have responded to an estimated average of 345,000 home fires per year. It has also been reported that house fires have caused an annual average of 2,560 fire civilian deaths, 11,220 civilian fire injuries, and $6.9 billion in direct property damage.
Reading these numbers is terrifying, but you have the power to mitigate the risks. In this article, we’ll take a look at the 5 rules you should follow to make your home safer from fires.
1. Invest in Fire Resistant Home Upgrades
There’s no doubt that remodeling or renovating your home is a great way to enhance its curb appeal and increase its value. However, the money you put into all the improvements can go to waste if your property can easily catch fire. Construction materials like untreated wood, polystyrene, and low-quality insulation products tend to be more flammable. Even if they’re installed by professionals, they tend to burn more quickly when exposed to a heat source , and thus, may quickly spread fire around your home. Fortunately, thanks to improved building codes, it’s now easier to find and purchase fire-resistant construction materials.
Upgrades like high-grade R30 insulation come in many different types of materials. Each one is made to meet the construction industry’s safety standards, in addition to following the requirements of the NFPA. Fiberglass batts, for example, are naturally fire resistant while mineral wool has a high melting temperature. Cellulose insulation, on the other hand, is treated with fire-resistant chemicals, so it can withstand high temperatures even if it’s mostly made of recycled paper. Should you opt for cellulose insulation, be sure to invest in high-quality products. This will ensure that the insulation is properly treated and will provide you with the highest fire-resistance levels that cellulose insulation can provide.
Wood building materials can also come treated with fire retardant treatments or coatings. Although these coatings don’t make wood completely fireproof, they can make them incredibly fire-resistant to help slow the spread of fires.
2. Install Fire Safety Equipment and Systems
Installing high-quality fire safety equipment and systems is vital to stopping the spread of fires. When there’s a fire extinguisher in an easy-to-access spot, it’ll give you a higher chance of putting out a flame before it spreads. However, depending on the size of your home and the number of floors it has, one fire extinguisher might not be enough to ensure your safety. Ideally, there should be one fire extinguisher on every floor, as well as in the kitchen.
You should also consider purchasing or upgrading to a monitored fire alarm, smoke alarm, and sprinkler systems. With these devices strategically placed around your home, they can quickly help you detect and put out flames.
3. Inspect Your Fire Safety Equipment Regularly
Even if you’ve invested in high-quality fire safety gear and systems, it’s still in your best interest to have them professionally inspected for proper maintenance. Some of these products can malfunction and experience problems over time. Those with consumable contents, like fire extinguishers, can expire. Although commissioning regular inspection can put a dent in your annual savings, it’s still one of the wisest decisions you’ll ever make. It gives fire inspectors a chance to check whether or not your fire safety equipment are functioning properly, are usable, and are up-to-date. If they notice anything that violates safety regulations, they’ll immediately alert you and assist you in choosing the appropriate solution to the problem.
4. Create an Effective Fire Evacuation Plan
The strength and aftermath of fires are not only unpredictable, they’re also terrifying. During a house fire, people can get caught up in the moment, thus finding themselves paralyzed with fear. However, if a person knows how to act during such circumstances, the chances of their survival skyrockets. Given this fact, you need to create an effective fire evacuation plan so you and your loved ones can escape as quickly and as safely as possible if ever a fire accident does occur in your home.
When creating a plan, keep these following tips in mind to ensure everyone escapes unscathed:
- Make sure the plan works for everyone. Take into consideration who among your household will need extra assistance during the escape (e.g. children, older adults, persons with disabilities, and pets).
- Assign more than one escape route. Ensure that people are able to find a quick and easy way out no matter where they are in your home.
- Choose a meeting spot that’s easy to get to, near your home, and is visible to first responders. Ideally, the front of your house is the best location. However, if the situation doesn’t allow it, a neighbor’s house or a stop sign is the next best option.
5. Let the Professionals Handle the Fire and Damage
Once everyone is out of the house, the first thing you need to do is call the fire department stat. However, if you’re using a monitored fire alarm system, it’ll automatically notify the nearest fire station once the alarm goes off. After the fire is put out, do not attempt to step inside your home immediately in the aftermath of the accident. Depending on the severity of the fire, entering your fire-ravaged property can put you in danger.
The next best thing you can do is call a professional fire restoration company to help with the damage assessment, cleanup, and repairs. Professional fire restoration companies can also assist you in filing a fire damage claim to your insurer.
It’s true that a fire accident can happen when you least expect it. Nevertheless, you can minimize the damage caused by these disasters. Investing in fire-resistant building materials, installing a robust fire alarm system, and knowing what to do when a fire breaks out can certainly spell the difference between life and death.