Fires strike suddenly and unexpectedly. Because you’re unable to predict them, it can be hard to know what to do when one starts. If you don’t move quickly, then you or your loved ones could be seriously hurt – even killed. Last year, there were over 3,500 fire-related fatalities in the United States alone. That’s over nine people a day.
As with much in life, prevention is better than cure. While knowing what to do in the event of a fire is very helpful, preventing fire by fireproofing your home is very important.
In this article, you will find exactly how to properly handle a house fire and make sure that everyone is safe:
Before addressing how to properly handle a house fire, it’s important to explain what you should do after one takes place. Most people don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting around in their bank accounts, which means that they aren’t able to repair their homes after a fire. The loss of one’s home and one’s belongings can be devastating, financially and mentally. There is assistance available, in the form of disaster agencies and charities. If your insurer won’t pay out or you didn’t have insurance, to begin with, then you can contact a cash-for-homes company, who will buy your house from you even after it’s been fire-damaged.
Extinguishing the Fire
Now, the first thing that you should do if a fire breaks out at your house is to extinguish it. It’s always worth having a fire extinguisher lying around for this reason. Fires that would otherwise take down an entire house can be extinguished in a matter of seconds. Fire extinguishers are affordable, easy to find, and compact. If you have a large house, then you might want to invest in multiple fire extinguishers. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions and familiarise yourself with your fire extinguisher before you have to use it so that you know how to handle it. When you extinguish a fire, make sure that it’s completely out and not still smoldering.
Crawl Beneath the Flames
If you and your family are caught in a fire, you need to make sure that they [and you] crawl and do not walk. Fires produce poisonous gasses that can cause unconsciousness. If you’re rendered unconscious escaping from a fire, it can quickly engulf you. Make sure that you all crawl to the closest exit point, never walk. Staying low will reduce your exposure to these gasses and to the smoke that the fire will produce.
image © Andrew Gaines
A big mistake that people make when they’re escaping from a house fire is opening door handles and touching doorknobs, without checking first. If a door handle has been heated up by flames on the other side of the door, it could burn your hand and seriously injure you. You need to make sure that your family is aware of this too so that if they’re escaping from a different room, they don’t burn themselves.
The pain of burning your hand on hot metal can be very severe. It can be so bad that it might stop you from being able to escape or cause you to fall unconscious.
If your house is engulfed in flames and the fire is spreading fast, the best way out is through a window. If you’re several levels up then of course this won’t be possible. If it’s one or two floors, then it’s worth the risk of jumping. If you’re lucky enough to have neighbors, then you can call for help and they can catch your children as they jump from the window. They might also be able to catch your pets. Don’t worry about the costs of breaking a window if you’re caught in a fire – just do it and jump to safety.
Ringing for Help
If you’re caught in a fire, then one of the first things that you should do is to ring for help. With that said, make sure you continue trying to escape. If you ring for help there’s no guarantee that they will get to you quick enough to save you. You should still try to escape from your house – with your family – as safely as possible, and follow this article’s guidance. It might be an idea to ring family members or neighbors for help in addition to the police, in case you have to jump out of a window [as we mentioned above].
If you’re the head of your house and you’re caught in a fire, it’s your responsibility to protect your family and get everybody to safety. Make sure to ring for help. If the police or fire department recommends something that’s a contradiction of what’s mentioned here, follow their advice instead of this article.