According to the National Fire Protection Association NFPA 2020 report, about 3700 people lose their lives in residential related fires . On average, the annual damage caused by home fires every year is about 14.8 billion dollars.
Many people have the notion that residential fires rarely happen and don’t really see it as a big deal. But the truth is that it happens a lot in the US and other parts of the world. A report from the NFPA shows that firefighters responded to about 354,400 fires annually from 2011 to 2015. The report further showed that the damage caused by these fires during those years was more than 6 billion dollars.
These eye-opening reports go to show that residential fires are costly as they can do serious damage to properties and even take lives.
Regardless of the size of your home or apartment, it is worth noting that house fires these days are a far cry of what they used to be in the past. Apartment buildings now have more combustible materials than ever before. Because of this, an average home occupant has roughly about 2-4 minutes to get out of a burning building before it collapses or the flame engulfs the entire home. The average homeowner, 30 years ago, has about 15 to 20 minutes to get out of a burning building before it collapses.
Many people die in apartment- related fires either because they didn’t prepare way in advance or did not take fire safety seriously. If you are a homeowner and you don’t want to lose any of your loved ones during a fire incident, then you should take proactive steps to prepare your home and your loved ones while everything is ok. But if you don’t know much about fire safety and steps to preventing residential fires, chances are you won’t know what to do or where to start. Well, if this is true in your case, then, you are going to benefit from this article, as we will be discussing some potentially life-saving steps you must take before an apartment fire.
Before a building fire
As you likely know, a small fire can spread pretty quickly and become life-threatening within seconds. If you wait until the very last minutes or when you hear a fire alarm to prepare an escape plan, chances are you are going to make poor and regrettable choices that may cost you your life. As soon as you notice a fire, regardless of its size, flee to safety. Don’t waste precious time making phone calls or gathering valuables. Rather, do all you can to ensure that everybody gets out as quickly as possible and call the authorities afterwards.
Your goal as a homeowner is to do whatever it takes to reduce the likelihood of a fire occurring in your home. Below are a few ways to do that.
Don’t leave candles unattended– This is a no-brainer. An unattended candle may fall, ignite a combustible material and start a small fire.
Pick a safety monitor during in-house parties – Whether you are inviting a few friends over to have a drink or a lot of people for a large party, it is important that you assign someone to be a safety monitor. The person you pick will want to remain sober and reliable during the party. The job of the person is to ensure everyone stays in line and doesn’t do anything dangerous that could potentially start a fire under the influence of alcohol. It is also the responsibility of the safety monitor to alert everybody to fires and ensure that everyone gets out as quickly as possible.
Supervise children – it is never too early to teach your kids about fire safety and the damage a fire could cause. Even after you have done this, you should always supervise them especially if they are near space heaters and cooking surfaces.
A great way to reduce the odds of a fire occurring in your home is by removing wastes and combustible materials. Below are some easy ways to do this.
Get rid of flammable items like old newspapers, cardboard boxes, and magazines.
Keep combustible liquid and solid far away from halogen lamps, space heaters, and other heat sources.
Don’t store large amounts of flammable liquids in your home.
Store matches and lighters out of the reach of children or preferably in a locked cabinet.
Resist the urge to store flammable liquids like lamp oil, gasoline, propane, and so on in your home even for a short while.
- Don’t use Items that require an open flame to produce heat such as an Incense, Bunsen burners, and Alcohol burners except in a controlled environment.
- Don’t make it a habit of using incense, candles and other items that produces an open flame in your home as they can easily ignite combustible materials and start a small fire.
If you engage in a religious ceremony that involves the use of candles and incense, it is important that you contact the environmental health and safety office in your area to get approval.
The kitchen is one of the most fire-prone areas in a home, as there are a lot of heat source and open flames. Below are some tips to ensure fire safety in the kitchen.
Don’t leave food unattended– This is one of the main causes of home fires, and for good reasons. You see, unattended food can start a fire within seconds and are very difficult to put out.
Dress– While you have the freedom to wear whatever you want while cooking, it is wise that you wear something that is tight-fitting and short. See, you don’t need to buy expensive chef attire or a special cloth to cook to ensure fire safety while cooking. Anything will do as long as it isn’t very loose.
Towels and pot holders– The importance of towels and pot holders in a kitchen cannot be overemphasized. However, they pose a risk. Since they are combustible, they may catch fire if they are too close to a fire source.
Double check your kitchen– Carefully inspect every part of your kitchen to see if you left anything on before leaving the house or before going to bed.
Don’t use your oven as a space heater.
Smoking is a dangerous habit that can potentially start a residential fire. Read the following tips carefully if you or someone living with you smoke.
Don’t smoke inside– Of course, you have the freedom to smoke anywhere you want. But if you are really serious about fire safety, then you will only smoke outside.
Don’t smoke when you are drowsy– Resist the urge to smoke when you are under the influence of alcohol, prescriptions drugs or feeling drowsy.
Don’t smoke in bed – Smoking in bed is very dangerous, as cigarette ash may fall on your bed and start a fire.
Kill the smoke– Carelessness and inappropriate disposal of cigarette butt has resulted in many residential fires that have claimed lives and destroyed properties. Do well to extinguish all smoking materials before disposing of it.
Use ashtrays– Use ashtrays with a stable and wide base that is difficult to tip over.
Douse ashtrays– Before disposing the content of an ashtray into a bin, you should first douse it with water.
Be on the alert– Do well to check for cigarette butt near sofa cushion and furniture before calling it a night.
Be clean and organized
Being clean and organized is one of the most simple and inexpensive ways to reduce the odds of a fire occurring in your home. As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to keep every part of your property clean and organized. As you likely know, dust and dirt accumulation can fuel a small fire and make it bigger and more dangerous.
Many of the residential fires that occurred over the last couple of years could have been prevented if the building had a working smoke detector. This makes it critical for a homeowner to invest in high-quality smoke detectors that can alert residents of a small fire before it spirals out of control and cause large scale damage. You should install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your apartment. The best place to install a smoke detector is outside bedrooms, on top or bottom of open stairways, but not in the kitchen.
Smoke detectors aren’t designed to last forever, so to keep them running, you have to inspect them thoroughly every month and change their batteries every year.
It is also a good idea to test the smoke alarm installed in your home every now and then. If you aren’t tech savvy or you have little or no idea on how to do it, then you should employ a trained technician to help you out.
Detectors should be replaced every 10 years, regardless of their working condition. Check out this cool fire fighting robot.
Have a plan
Preparation is the key to surviving a residential fire. Preparing for a house fire involves everything; from developing an escape plan to picking a safe place outside to run to. Below are remarkable tips that can help you create a solid fire safety plan or improve your existing one.
Develop a fire safety plan– Carefully craft a fire safety plan for responding to a fire in your living areas. Discuss the plan with your family members and friends who are living with you. Don’t forget to tell your caregivers and babysitters of your plan. Try to be explicit and down to earth when telling them about your plan, as they may not be conversant with the inns and out of your home as well as the exits.
Practice your plan– This is a great way to see if you plan works or if it is a flop. Carefully review escape routes and remove anything that may prevent you and your loved ones from getting out quickly.
Draw a picture of escape routes– This may seem like an overkill, but the truth is that it is not. Drawing a picture showing the various escape routes or the closest exit to each room is a sure way to help everyone get a clear picture of the quickest way to leave the building,.
Inspect your windows– If other exits are blocked or engulfed with flames and smoke, the next best way to get out safely is through your windows. Since your windows can be an alternative escape route, then you should ensure that your windows are not painted shut or nailed.
Exit signs– Smoke and fumes from a fire may make it difficult or impossible for you to find your way to the nearest exit quickly. Installing Exit signs in your home will go a long way in helping you locate the nearest exit. It is also a good idea to count the number of doors you will have to pass before you reach an alternative or the nearest exit.
Ladders– Invest in high-quality fire escape ladders if you live in a tall building. Since escape ladders vary in size and design, it is important that you do deep and extensive research to narrow down the one that will suit the needs of your building.
Emergency numbers– Ensure that everyone in your home knows how to call for help in the event of an emergency.
Meeting place – Pick a safe location, a good distance away from your home that everybody can easily run to in the event of a fire emergency. (This should be part of your fire escape plan)
Regular fire drills– Hold fire drill at least once every 3 months, especially if there are disabled persons or little children in your home.
As previously mentioned, preparation is the key to surviving a residential fire. Preparation goes beyond building your home with fire-resistant materials and having an escape plan. Preparing for fire also involves having regular fire drills, installing smoke detectors, being clean and organized, and managing combustible solids and liquids. If you are able to apply the tips discussed in this article, the odds of a fire occurring in your home will be very slim.
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