Protecting your family from a home fire starts with coming up with a fire escape plan. A small fire can escalate in less than a minute, and a sound evacuation plan greatly reduces fire-related deaths and protects your family should a fire occur.
- Plan two ways out of every room in your house; this way, if one path is blocked by flames or smoke there is an alternate path out.
- During a fire, use the back of your hand to feel the door, doorknob, and the crack between the floor and door frame to make sure the fire is not outside the door. If any of these feel hot, use the second escape route. If the door is cool, open it slowly and brace your shoulder against the door. If heat and smoke come in, close the door quickly and use the other escape route.
- Make sure doors and windows open easily. Check windows to make sure they are not stuck, and that everyone in the house knows how to open them and remove the screen if necessary. If you have security bars on your windows, check the quick-release device to make sure they can be opened immediately, and practice opening the locks with everyone in the house.
- Practice escaping from the house with a blindfold, in the dark, or with your eyes closed. This will prepare you and your family to navigate through smoke if it is blocking your exit route. Remember to stay low to the ground to avoid the smoke and keep your mouth covered with a piece of clothing, blanket, or towel since the toxic gases from smoke can cause disorientation or fainting.
- Teach children not to hide or be afraid of firefighters. Remind young kids that firemen will help them in the event of an emergency.
- Designate a meeting place that’s away from the house, such as the end of the driveway or a place on the sidewalk. Hold a fire drill to ensure everyone in the house knows where to meet. Also pick someone to be in charge of going to a neighbor’s house and calling 911.
- Time is of the essence during a fire - never waste time by trying to save belongings.
For more information on protecting your family from a home fire by obtaining or reviewing your homeowners or renter’s insurance policy give us a call at (800) 807-6871 or visit our interactive website at Cliff Cottam Insurance Services .