According to The American Red Cross, home fires spike in December and January. The Red Cross alone responded to over 68,000 home fires in the U.S. last year and the National Fire Protection Association reports that residential fires have increased 8 percent since 2000.
Just this week in Franklin, TN, near our offices in Murfreesboro, a family of seven lost their home during the middle of the night due to a heating lamp. The holidays are supposed to be a fun and joyous time of year, but sadly for many they bring about tragedy.
Don’t let a fire destroy your home and family this winter. Here are some steps you can take to help prevent this from happening.
First Line of Defense
Your first line of defense is always a smoke detector. Smoke detectors should be outside each sleeping area, on each level of your home and near the kitchen as most home fires start in this area. Not only should you have smoke detectors , but you should test them once a month and replace the batteries in them once a year. Smoke detectors over 10 years old should be replaced with newer models.
What Else Do You Need?
If smoke detectors are your defense, the fire extinguisher’s are your offense. Keep a fire extinguisher handy on each level of your home. Not only do you need a fire extinguisher, but you need to learn how to use in before you need it. Take a fire safety class or take an extinguisher and practice outside your home. When dealing with a fire, seconds and minutes can make the difference between a small damage fire and a complete loss of home.
Have a Plan
Expect the best and plan for the worse. You should have an escape plan in case the worst happens and you do have a fire in your house. Know exactly what you’ll do and practice it with your family. If you have a second or third floor you should consider storing escape ladders under a bed or in a closet for easy access. If you find yourself trapped in a room, close the door as this will keep smoke and heat out for a while and give you more time to escape or call for help.
Call For Help
Don’t delay when it comes for calling for help. Have a phone ready to call 9-1-1 as soon as you sense danger. A good idea to to keep some old cell phones stored around the house and charged up. Even if you don’t have service to those particular phones, most phones are equipped with a 9-1-1 function.
Know the Pitfalls
Things like clogged clothes dryers, space heaters, old wiring, heat lamps, etc come with risks. Time and time again you see innocent things like these starting devastating fires. Be overly cautious and never assume that these things will be o.k. left unattended.
Here’s hoping you and your family have a safe and blessed holiday season.