When we talk about home security, you may immediately think of burglars and intruders. But a truly safe home should have the basics covered. Fires just may be a homeowners worst nightmare and the first step to coping is to arm yourself with knowledge and make sure you’re prepared and protected.
How do home fires start?
Ah, the number one cause of home fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, most home fires begin in the kitchen, due to unattended cooking.
This is especially important to keep in mind during the winter when we’re all in need of a little more heat. Always remember to keep your space heaters away from combustible materials like curtains, laundry, furniture, etc. If your home depends on a furnace for heating, get it regularly inspected each year to ensure it’s safe for use.
Keep an eye out for faulty wiring throughout your home. If you notice any frequently blown fuses, lights dimming when you use other appliances, etc. – those are red flags that should be fixed ASAP.
Things like unsupervised candles, abandoned flat irons, or smoking indoors can all lead to unexpected consequences.
What are home fires like?
Fire is FAST
According to an article by BuyersAsk.com, you only have about 3 – 5 minutes to escape a fire in your home. The rooms can fill quickly with black smoke and/or become engulfed in flames. For more information on the stages of a home fire and how/why it spreads, read more here.
Fire is HOT
It may sound obvious, but the heat of a fire can be more dangerous than the actual flames. Temperatures can rise to 600º at eye level – so breathing in this extremely hot air can scorch your lungs and melt your clothes.
Fire is DARK
You may immediately consider the bright flames of a fire, but those flames produce black smoke that will make it extremely dark and nearly impossible to see.
Fire is DEADLY
Fire produces poisonous gases and smoke that can make you disoriented, drowsy and end up killing more people than the flames of the fire do.
How to Prevent & Prepare for a Fire
Create an escape plan with your family
The worst thing you can be if and when a fire occurs is unprepared. Create a plan with your family so that everyone knows what to do and can act quickly. Make a note of all the exits in your home and ensure that they are not blocked in some way. Windows should be easily opened and any screens should be easy to remove. Everyone should practice moving through the house in the dark or with eyes closed (make a game out of it for the kids!). Go over your plan often to keep everyone alert and prepared.
Keep smoke detectors ready
Test your smoke detectors often and replace the batteries about twice a year. You should have a smoke detector on each level of your home. Never EVER disable your smoke detector while cooking! While you may be trying to avoid a nuisance, remember that it’s there to protect you and your family.
Many home fires could be avoided simply by being more attentive. Don’t ever leave the kitchen while the stove is on and unattended. Remember, fires move quickly, and sometimes all it takes is a moment of negligence. Always keep an eye on potential hazards like candles, a fireplace, space heaters, etc.
Protect your belongings
Getting your family out safely is the number one priority, but we know you would hate to lose any of your important possessions or documents on top of the damage to your home. Think ahead – scan and save digital copies of your important documents and upload or save them somewhere secure. For other irreplaceable, expensive, or special possessions, keep them in a fire-proof safe or box.
For more info and tips on fire safety, visit Ready.gov
What to do once a home fire occurs
Remember, you have only a few minutes to exit your home so don’t hesitate to act. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make your way out:
- Before opening any doors, touch the doorknob and door. If either is hot, leave the door closed and find another way out.
- Crawl low. Heavy smoke and toxic gases will rise and collect toward the ceiling first.
- Stop, drop, and roll if your clothes catch flames.
- If you have pets or anyone that you can’t get to – notify the fire rescue service as soon as you can with their exact location
Depend on Alarm.com
Make sure your smoke detector is integrated into your Alarm.com security system. The app will notify you immediately so that you can act (even if you aren’t home). It will also contact emergency services for you and send an alert to your designated emergency contacts, like neighbors or family. Meanwhile, your Alarm.com system can automatically shut down your integrated HVAC to help contain the fumes.
Check out the video below to see a first-hand story of how Alarm.com protects you in a fire.