With warm summer weather hitting the Northwest earlier than normal, we would like to offer some helpful fire disaster tips. In summer’s past, we have seen fire damage hit close to home with the loss of a large plywood mill in Springfield in 2014 and the monumental Civic Stadium fire in 2015. If there’s one thing you can expect of a fire (especially in the summer), is that it will burn if you give it the chance.
When it comes to protecting homes from fire loss, you can never be too cautious. With loved ones, assets, memories, etc. in harm’s way, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry! Here are some tips for preventing residential fires to keep your home and family safe from fire.
- Get protected now! Don’t wait until tomorrow to plan. If you don’t plan ahead, you didn’t plan! Protect arguably your largest asset the right way the first time. Not only are you at risk of losing a house to fire damage, but you’re also at risk for losing what’s inside of it (lives, valuables, etc.).
- Perform a hazard analysis and limit the potential for fire. Once a month, if not more, walk around your house and address the hazards you have at home. This may require some critical thinking or even thinking outside of the box. Not every hazard stands out as such. Not every hazard has a “danger” label or a “flammable” label on it. Whether your newspaper recycling is building up, or you have a leaky gas can in the garage, you could have hazards that react in a similar fashion when introduced to a flame.
- Clean up messes you leave behind. A mess creates more risk. Risk of fire, or risk of not being able to evacuate. If you have one exit and it’s blocked by a coffee table, memorabilia and a cooler, you’re going to have a difficult time getting to safety quickly.
- “Decorate” your house with smoke detectors. Smoke detectors can be hidden fairly well and still detect smoke build up. The earlier you know about a fire, the quicker you can ensure that you and others can get to safety. Arguably the most vulnerable situation you are in is when you are sleeping. A fire could be past the point of control by the time you become aware of it if you don’t have smoke detectors. The quickest way to be alerted of a fire (especially while you’re asleep) is with smoke detectors. That awful high-pitched ring will bring you right to your feet!
- Keep at least one extinguisher on each level. The last thing in the world you’ll want to waste precious time on in the event of a fire is searching for an extinguisher. By keeping extinguishers handy, you’ll save time searching for one instead of trying to evacuate yourself, your kids or your pets. The other benefit is that fire extinguishers can be used to help you during the evacuation. If you would rather minimize flames down a staircase to an exit than jump out a window, keep one with you upstairs!
- Keep shrubs healthy and green. The healthier a plant is the less risk they have of catching fire. When a shrub dies and dries out, remove the plant or the dead ends so there isn’t build-up of highly flammable Class A material. When you’ve compiled dead debris, hall it off in either a trailer or the yard debris bin. Don’t let it stack up and create a bigger hazard.
- Be a good neighbor. Bring it to your neighbor’s attention that fire safety is a key concern of yours. Fill them in on how to stay protected and how to keep their fires from becoming your problem.
- Check doors and windows regularly. Make sure all doors and windows can open easily. Doors and windows that are jammed will be harder to escape from in the event of a fire.
With these tips in mind, we ask you to spend the time addressing ways you can prevent and protect your home from fires. Go through this list once a year to make sure you are staying on top of your fire protection needs. Prepare for the possibility of these events ahead of time!