Fire prevention has been on my mind a lot lately given what’s happening in California. It’s absolutely terrifying and heartbreaking to see the devastation spreading across the state. Of all the things that scare me in this world (and trust me, there are a lot), fire ranks among my top 3. I’m kind of neurotic about making sure my home is safe from hazards. I’m sharing a few of my top tips along with some extra tips from First Alert to help your family become a Super Prepared Family!
*I received a complimentary Fire Prevention Kit from First Alert to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.
A good fire safety plan should include both a prevention and an action plan. Ideally, you want to keep fires from ever breaking out in your home, which is where the prevention comes in. However, as much as we don’t want to believe it can happen to us, the action plan is vital to making sure everyone gets out alive.
Fire Prevention Tips
Know your risk factors
Look around your home and evaluate the greatest risks for fires, then come up with ways to negate them. For example, if you just can’t do without burning your favorite seasonal candle, set an alarm on your phone to remind you to blow them out before you go to bed. Make sure you keep the flame far enough from things that it could ignite, and out of reach of your pets. If you have a washer and dryer in your home, make sure you’re emptying your lint filter every time you turn the dryer on.
You also need to evaluate outside risks and either decide if you can do anything about them or live with the fact that some things are out of your control. I am terrified to live in an apartment or town home because I feel like I not only have to worry about my own fire prevention plan, but also that of my neighbors. When we lived in the tower apartments on base in Japan, I had to accept the fact that I couldn’t control 9 floors worth of residents. Ironically, in the two years we lived there, the only time the building-wide fire alarm went off was when my husband burned bacon bad enough to cause smoke to spill out into the hallway.
Make sure you have WORKING smoke alarms in all the right places
We all know that smoke alarms are a must, but are you putting them in the right places? Are they all working? We had an ancient alarm in our kitchen that went off if the slightest bit of heat from the stove hit it. Some days, even the heat from outside was enough to set it off! You might think having a sensitive alarm is a good thing, but trust me, it’s not. After hearing that screeching so many times, you start to assume that it’s just acting up. It’s easier to brush it off.
Since October is Fire Prevention Month, it’s a good time to go through your house and make sure that all of your alarms are up to date and working properly. It’s also a good time to cover areas that are lacking, like putting a 10-Year Dual Sensor Smoke & Fire Alarm on every level of the house and outside bedrooms. I even went so far as to put First Alert’s10-Year Atom Smoke & Fire Alarm in my son’s bedroom. He’s a messy tween boy with a lot of electronics, you can never be too safe.
While you’re updating your smoke alarms, make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector too. CO is just as deadly as a fire and it’s impossible to detect on your own. I have the 10-Year Alarm Life Carbon Monoxide Alarm by first alert on the main level of my home and the 10-Year Combination Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm on the second level.
Do a “fire hazard” check before bed and before leaving the house
Every night before I go to bed, I go around the house and make sure that it’s secure from fire hazards. I unplug the toaster if it was left plugged in, check to make sure my tart burner is off and unplugged, and so on. I won’t go to bed if the dryer is running, either. That may be a bit extreme, but I can’t sleep unless it’s off. Before you leave your home, do a more in-depth check. I’m not saying you have to unplug every device in the house if you’re just running down to the grocery store, but if you’ll be gone overnight it’s a good idea.
Know how to put out small fires before they spread
So, here’s a little tidbit about me that I don’t think I’ve told you before: I was the cooking fire poster child of the Pacific Rim back in 1999! Seriously! My husband was a Navy JO working at AFN (Armed Forces Network) Misawa. Apparently, cooking fires were a big problem in the military, especially on bases throughout the Pacific Rim. He needed someone to be in the PSA and on the little posters, so I stood in front of a stove in my 30 Foot Fall punk rock t-shirt while the guy from the fire department lit my pan on fire. The look of shock on my face was absolutely NOT faked. See, he didn’t tell me they’d be lighting an actual fire near me. I just assumed he’d edit that in!
Anyway, I remember the lesson I learned that day for the rest of my life. When your pan bursts into flames, grab the lid and drop it on! Other fires aren’t quite that easy to put out, so you also want to make sure you have extinguishers handy. I’ll be honest, I don’t really know how to use a fire extinguisher because I never had to try. I’m afraid my hands would be shaking too much and I’d bungle it up. First Alert sent me their Tundra Fire Extinguishing Spray and now I keep that in my kitchen. I haven’t tried it yet because it’s a one-time use thing, but the directions look crazy easy.
Keep your appliances updated!
A few years ago, right before Christmas, I had a bit of a fire scare. We had an ancient microwave that was built in above out stove. It came with the house. The night before our annual family party, I was microwaving a bowl of soup. I made sure to use a microwave-safe bowl. Still, about a minute into the cycle, I heard a loud pop and saw a flash of electricity burst inside the unit before it just died. I freaked out and started digging through the cabinet next to it to find the plug and unplug it. As I was searching, I saw what I thought was a plume of smoke! Turns out it was just a burst of flour from the bag I jostled, but in that moment, I pictured my whole house going up in flames. I replaced the microwave with a new unit that isn’t in the wall and regularly replace other outdated appliances.
Why You Need a Good Fire Action Plan
If a fire does break out, you need to have a plan in place to get everyone to safety. The time to make that plan is NOW, not during a fire! Too often, we think we know how we’ll react to a tragedy. We don’t need a plan, right? I mean, how much planning do you need to run out of your house? The thing is, when you’re panicked, your reaction is either “fight,” “flight” or “freeze.” Obviously, flight is the option you want to choose here, but you’d be surprised by how many people simply freeze.When that happens, it’s easy to forget even the simplest things, like how to get yourself and your kids to safety.
By coming up with a fire action plan AND practicing it, you’re not only increasing your chances of getting out alive in the best of circumstances, but also training your mind how to react in the vent that you do freeze up. It’s kind of like relying on muscle memory or going into auto pilot mode. Coming up with the perfect plan depends a lot on your home, family, and where you live. For tips on how to create and practice your fire prevention plan, head over to First Alert’s website and check out their Super Prepared Family tips.
First Alert Fire Prevention Kit Giveaway
First Alert is giving one of my readers the same Fire Prevention Kit that I received. It includes:
- 10-Year Atom Smoke & Fire Alarm
- 10-Year Dual Sensor Smoke & Fire Alarm
- 10-Year Alarm Life Carbon Monoxide Alarm
- 10-Year Combination Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm
- Tundra Fire Extinguishing Spray
Enter below on the entry form. Giveaway is open to US residents age 18+ and ends on November 3rd. Good luck!
What are your best tips for preventing fires in your home? Share below!