In recent years, there have been more than 300,000 annual residential house fires. For each of these years, the financial losses from these fires numbered in the billions of dollars. Loss of life hovered in the 2,500 range. All of these statistics have one thing in common: they are simply too high.
Fire can be an unpredictable beast. Though we know what starts fires, enough preventative measures are not always taken to keep fires from impacting our lives. In some cases, fire control is out of our hands, such as with a fertilizer plant that exploded in 2013, killing 15 and injuring 226. None of the residents of West, Texas knew that fertilizer plant was going to explode. Some may not even have been aware of volatile chemicals used in such a facility. Sure, that is much more prevalent knowledge now, but it took tragedy to make people aware.
Photo: Bucks Local News
When it comes to fire protection, the first rule of thumb to remember is that it is impossible to have a home that is completely fireproof. You can reduce the odds of a fire impacting your life and home, but you cannot eradicate the possibility. That said, there are steps you can and should take to make fire as little of a threat to you and your family as possible.
Here are 5 steps to decrease fire threats:
1. Depending on where you live, fire may be a regular occurrence or a rare one. Some areas have wildfire seasons and fire conditions are exacerbated by droughts. If you live in a climate that is at risk of fire, always stay aware of fire conditions at all times.
2. Make sure you have plenty of means of escape. Every room should have two exit opportunities, such as a door and a window. Practice using both and develop an exit plan, practicing it regularly and concluding each practice at a designated meeting spot just as you would should a real fire occur.
3. Add fire resistant items to your home structure as it becomes possible. If you are building new, use fire-treated wood. If you own an older home, upgrade with fiber cement, a metal roof, and while you're at it, check and replace faulty wiring which can also be a source of danger. Fire resistant carpet is also a good idea and new furniture purchases can be treated to resist fire before you bright them home. Ensure that outlets near water, such as sinks, are GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) protected. You may wish to add a sprinkler system as well, to douse flames that do start. Keep an eye on extension cord and appliance health as well as cleaning your dryer lint tray and vent regularly.
4. Keep your yard free of unnecessary foliage growth, fallen leaves, and other flammable clutter. Plants that can catch fire may pass that fire onto your home, so opt for plant types that resist fire (honeysuckle, ivy, morning glory) or just go with grass. Whichever you choose, keep it watered so it will be too well hydrated to ignite easily.
5. Be aware of fire department response times so you don't take for granted the need to get out is possible, as waiting for rescue can be fatal. Some rural areas have only volunteer fire departments rather than staffed fire houses with people who can respond immediately. In cases such as this, you can expect a slower response time, which sadly can include more of a loss. In the event that you are served by a volunteer fire department which may not be as quick to respond as needed, taking steps towards fire resistance is of utmost importance. It is also vital that your property is accessible to responders, with gates open and driveways passable by fire truck.
Photo: Ways 2 Go Green
Beyond these five tips, there is plenty more you can do to keep you and your family safe. This includes keeping fire extinguishers throughout the house and ensuring that smoke alarms are functional and have fresh batteries. Most importantly, know your fire safety plan like the back of your hand and make sure your family does as well. Drill home the value of stop, drop, and roll as well as how to utilize exits and operate extinguishers should you become separated.
When it comes to fire, there is no such thing as taking too many precautions. Should the SHTF in the form of fire, the more ready you are, the better chance you have to survive. Do you have anything you would like to add to our fire survival list? Let us known in the comments.