Disaster Preparedness – House Fires


House fires


Before a house fire:

  • Install smoke detectors. Check them monthly. Change the batteries yearly, whether they need it or not.
  • Practice setting off the smoke alarm at night when everyone is asleep. Studies show that sleeping children may not be able to hear the alarm. Practice other methods of awakening them, perhaps by bell or bullhorn.
  • Make sure you are able to open windows, screens, security bars, and doors.
  • Develop an escape plan for different areas of the home, particularly focusing on escaping from the bedroom areas. Each room should have two different ways of escape in case one is blocked by fire. Practice the plan regularly.
  • Choose a safe meeting place outside the home. Make sure that everyone knows where the meeting place is.
  • Keep flashlights in each room. Keep household fire extinguishers handy. Keep at least one fire escape ladder on upper levels.
  • Practice evacuating while blindfolded. Smoke from house fires can be so thick that you will not be able to see. Practice staying low to the ground while evacuating.
  • Know simple fire rules, such as feeling a door before opening it to determine if it is safe. If it is hot, find another way out. Remember to stop, drop, and roll if clothing catches fire.

During a house fire:

  • Getting out quickly and safely is your only goal. Do not try to save anything, no matter how valuable or important to you.
  • Stay very low to the ground. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth, a blanket, or your shirt to prevent breathing in smoke and dangerous fumes.
  • Never use an elevator during a fire as you could be trapped. Always take the stairs.
  • Do not open a door that feels hot or has smoke coming in from underneath or around the doorframe. Opening the door could cause the fire to explode into the room where you are.
  • Once out, contact emergency services.
  • Meet at your safe place, away from the fire.
  • Do not go back into a burning building under any circumstances.

After a house fire:

  • Do not return to the building until fire authorities give the OK. For a minor fires, make sure there is no damage to the structure of the home that could cause its collapse.
  • Contact your insurance company, landlord, mortgage company, or any other relevant agencies to notify them of the fire.
  • When given the clear to return inside the home, try to collect valuable items such as
    documents, records, or irreplaceable items as well as assessing the damage.
  • Throw out any food that was exposed to the fire and smoke.