Ideally, your electrical system will be well maintained and safe. Frequent maintenance, paying attention to warning signs, and making sure that all electrical work is done by a certified professional are all great ways to decrease your risk of having an electrical fire. However, electrical fires do occur sometimes. Making sure that you are prepared for a fire, can help keep you and your family safe, save you money, and increase the chances that things work out for you.
As with most emergency situations, the best things to do will be done before the disaster starts. Taking steps to ensure that you are educated, prepared, and have a plan will all help to increase your chances of coming out ahead. So, beef up your home defenses. Make sure that you have enough smoke detectors, distributed properly. The National Fire Protection Agency recommends that you have at least one smoke detector on each level of the home, with additional smoke detectors inside of each bedroom and outside of sleeping areas. Fire can move quickly, and the faster you get the alert, the better your chances of survival become. Additionally, make sure that your detectors are functioning and have fresh batteries. Frequent testing of your smoke detectors will ensure that if a fire comes, you will not discover too late that they are no longer working.
Additionally, make a fire escape plan for your household. This might depend on who you have living in your area, but it can be particularly effective if you have young children. Make a plan, talking about escape routes, and exterior locations to meet up if a fire occurs. Think about different areas where a fire might occur, and how that could impact your ability to escape through certain pathways. Ensure that your plan will work for all the residents of your home. If you have young children or disabled adults, there will need to be special considerations made. Finally, make sure that all exits and entrances to your home are functional, and that any locks or latches can be removed easily and quickly in emergency.
Aside from these steps to help you be prepared for a fire, you can also do things to decrease your risk of fire. This includes taking steps like owning a functioning fire extinguisher, and having your electrical systems regularly inspected.
Surviving a Fire
If a fire starts, the immediate decision you will have to make is whether you can extinguish the fire quickly and easily, or you need to flee. A small fire in a trash can, for example, can often be extinguished if you have a fire extinguisher on hand. However, if there is any doubt as to whether the fire will be easily extinguished, you should flee. Not only might the fire be larger than you realize, but every second counts in getting yourself and your family to safety.
If there is smoke in the air, stay low while escaping. Smoke can displace oxygen from the air, and you might not realize you are not getting enough oxygen in your lungs. Staying low can help give you access to a layer of cleaner air beneath the smoke. The additional visibility from staying out of the smoke can help as well.
Stay calm, and focus on getting out of the house. No matter the situation, your first priority needs to be making sure that you get out. Call 911 as quickly as you can without compromising your safety. The more quickly you call emergency services, the more likely they will be to have the ability to save your house or your family.
Finally, exercise caution before opening any doors or windows. As fires require oxygen to burn, opening a door with a fire on the other side can cause a burst of flame. If a door or doorknob is hot to the touch, back up and look for an alternative escape route.
If you are trapped in an area, your first priority should be to contact emergency services. Do what you can to seal off the advance of the fire, and take steps to communicate to rescuers your locations. Signaling at windows , and giving detailed information to first responders can make a difference in your survival. This is particularly important if you are far enough from the ground floor that you cannot simply exit through the window.
No matter your situation, your house could potentially catch on fire. So, take the steps you can to decrease your fire risk. If a fire that could have been prevented by regular maintenance and electrical inspections causes severe damage, you will certainly regret not having taken care of your systems. And while there are many causes of home fires, electrical fires are ones that are highly preventable, but most people simply don’t take the steps to do so.