A Homeowner’s Guide to Fire Protection
During the current climate of uncertainty, many of us are left wondering if there is anything left still within our control. Every year, thousands of people nationwide are tragically injured in house fires. U.S. fire departments respond to one home every 88 seconds, and, on average, seven people die in the United States per day from home fires.
While we can’t always control when natural disasters like fires occur, we can increase our control of the situation by trying to prevent future injuries with proper preparation and planning. In the event that a fire breaks out in your home, you could have as little as two minutes to escape once the smoke alarm sounds. With September being recognized as National Preparedness Month, we have compiled a fire protection checklist to help you and your family stay safe in a fire emergency:
1. Prevent Potential Fire Sources
Cooking and heating are the leading causes of home fires and fire injuries, especially during winter months. By staying alert while cooking and implementing these safety measures, you can try to prevent a kitchen fire from happening in your home.
- If you are sleepy or have consumed any substances such as alcohol or prescription medications that could impair judgment, avoid using the oven or stovetop.
- Keep a close eye on your kitchen, checking your food regularly to prevent an accidental, unsupervised fire.
- Keep any potential flammables, like paper, clothing, rugs, or other at least 3 feet away from your stovetop.
- Keep any children and pets in your home away from hot surfaces.
- When you are done cooking or heating, always make sure to turn your devices off!
Other precautions you can take in your home include instituting a “no smoking” policy in the house, switching to flameless candles, and keeping matches and lighters out of the reach of children. It’s a good idea to periodically check in and around your home for cords that may be frayed or bare wires. If you aren’t using your devices, try to remember to unplug them.
Three out of five fire deaths occur in homes that don’t have working smoke alarms or alarms whatsoever. Installing smoke detectors is a pivotal step in protecting your home from fires. Coggin Security, Inc. works with our Honeywell providers to bring you the most advanced security and fire protection technologies, with an all-inclusive range that is sure to meet your needs. No home is the same – that’s why we carry a variety of products, from conventional to intelligent smoke and fire detection devices. Additionally, a quick download of the Total Connect App on your device allows easy access to Coggin’s alarm systems while you are on the go. The alarm system can be tailored to your Smart Home with automated actions and, with the app, you can receive alerts if there are any extreme temperature spikes that could be indicative of a home fire.
It’s important to make sure everyone living in your home is familiar with your detector system so that proper action can be taken in the event of an emergency. Install smoke detectors on every level of your home, inside bedrooms, and outside sleeping areas on the ceiling or high on the wall. However, you should try to keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. Keeping up with the required maintenance and testing of smoke detectors is also important to ensure they are working properly. The U.S. Fire Administration suggests testing smoke detectors monthly and replacing batteries twice a year. Detectors that have been in your home for 10 years or more should be replaced.
Another important aspect of prevention is owning and properly operating a fire extinguisher. You should always put your safety first. If you feel that you aren’t able to properly use an extinguisher, implement your fire escape plan and call 9-1-1 immediately. In the event of an emergency, the American Red Cross cautions you to evaluate the situation and ensure:
- Everyone inside the home has exited
- The nearest fire department has been contacted
- The fire is small, not spreading, and there is not much smoke
- Your back is to a quickly and easily accessible exit
Make sure you and your loved ones are informed about the different types of fire extinguishers, as not all will work on every fire. For home use, the National Fire Protection Association recommends a multi-purpose device large enough to put out a small fire but not so heavy that it will be difficult to handle. Review your extinguisher instructions annually – if you need to use a fire extinguisher, there won’t be time to learn during an emergency. Remember the acronym, PASS, in case you need to use one:
- Pull the pin
- Aim at the base of the fire
- Slowly squeeze the handle
- Sweep the nozzle from side to side
2. Create a Fire Escape Plan for Your Family
According to a National Fire Protection Association survey, only one out of every three American households develops and practices a home fire escape plan. Once you have ensured the proper prevention techniques around your home, creating a Family Fire Escape Plan will allow for quicker, safer action in the event of a home fire. We suggest drawing a map of your home to outline at least two exit ways in each room. The map should also include a place to meet after leaving the house; preferably a neighbor’s lawn or another outside location away from your home. Check windows and doorways in your home for problems that could cause them to jam to ensure they can open easily in case they need to be used as an exit. Assigning roles is also important when children and pets are involved, as these members of your family may need assistance in exiting the home. Review the plan with each person living in your home so everyone can be prepared.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
Of the American households that have a set fire escape plan, the NFPA says that less than half practice it. So after your Family Fire Escape Plan has been updated, perform a timed fire drill to practice the sequence of events. It may be beneficial to practice in both day and nighttime scenarios, as fires can happen unexpectedly at any time of day. Make sure to practice the following conditions until everyone is able to exit the home in under two minutes:
- Crawling low to the floor, with your mouth covered and eyes closed
- Closing doors behind you
- “Stop, Drop, and Roll” drills, especially with young children
- Testing door handles to see if they are hot before opening them
- Teaching children to never hide during a fire and how to help themselves in the event that you are unable
With over 100 years of combined experience, Coggin Security is certified to install, inspect, and monitor residential fire protection that’s going to protect your most important assets. Don’t let unexpected fire damage your home and family. Schedule a free consultation to discuss which of our alarm systems and smoke detectors is right for your home.