With the recent surge in wildfires across the country, fire safety at home has become a topic that is timelier and more important than ever. Each year, more than 3,275 people die, and 15,575 are injured in home fires in the United States. As wildfires bring the reality of fire dangers closer to home for many, understanding and preparing for the potential of a house fire becomes an essential part of our lives.
Speed and Stealth: The Nature of Fires
A fire can turn life-threatening in just two minutes, and in five, your entire home could be engulfed in flames. But it isn’t just the flames that are deadly; the heat and smoke can be even more lethal. Inhaling the super-hot air sears your lungs, and the gases produced can make you drowsy and disoriented—a frightening thought when every second counts. Surprisingly, asphyxiation exceeds burns by a 3:1 ratio in fire-related deaths. Remember, fires strike when least expected, often when people are asleep, and defenses are low.
Preparing for the Unthinkable
How can we protect our families and ourselves? It starts with knowledge and preparation. Here are some proactive steps to consider:
Ensure your furnace is checked annually and that your chimney is cleaned—preferably by a professional.
Practice safe appliance use, and be mindful with candles. Education on fire prevention for the whole family is key.
Smoke Alarms: Your 24/7 Guardian
Installing both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms—or dual sensor alarms—is an essential step. They should be tested monthly and batteries should be replaced annually.
Plan and Practice
Develop and regularly practice a fire escape plan with your family. It should include two ways to escape from every room and specifics like ensuring windows aren’t stuck and security bars can be opened.
When Fire Strikes: Survival Tactics
If you wake up to a fire, what should you do?
Act Fast: Smoke is toxic. Crawl low under smoke to your exit. Don’t waste time on phone calls or gathering valuables—get out.
Check Before You Open: Before opening a door, feel it. Is it hot? Is there smoke seeping in? If so, use your second exit.
Protect the Vulnerable: Plan extra precautions for older adults and those with access or functional needs, and teach children not to hide from firefighters.
If Trapped: If escape isn't an option, seal yourself in. Use cloths to block vents and call 911.
If Your Clothes Catch Fire: Remember: Stop, Drop, and Roll. Cool any burns with water and seek medical help immediately.
After the Blaze: Picking Up the Pieces
Recovering after a fire is often an overwhelming process. It is essential to know what steps to take, from contacting your insurance company to checking the safety of your home before re-entering. Save all your receipts related to fire loss; you'll need them for insurance claims and tax deductions.
We're Here to Help
At Chalmers Insurance Group, we don't just insure your home—we're committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. For more information on developing a comprehensive fire safety plan or building a disaster supply kit, we’re just a call away at 800-360-3000.