How To Prepare for a Fire

You never know when fire will strike, so it's always good to be prepared. You want your family to be safe in the event that a fire strikes your home. Follow these tips to prepare for a fire.

Step 1

Check your smoke alarms often. Your best chance of surviving a fire is by having ample warning. A good smoke detector will alert you to a fire. But it can't do this unless it's working, and it's your responsibility to ensure that the smoke alarms in your home are running properly. Test them monthly, if not weekly. And change the batteries in them, no matter what, every time the clocks turn ahead or back. This will ensure that there is always a working battery in your smoke alarm.

Step 2

Have fire extinguishers handy. Some fires can be controlled and put out with an extinguisher. If you can stop the fire before it has a chance to travel, you can save many of your possessions. To prepare for a fire, have at least one fire extinguisher on each floor of your home as well as in the garage. You may want to also carry one in the trunk of your car in case of a car fire. The fire extinguisher should be kept in an accessible spot where anyone - tall or short - can reach it. It shouldn't be covered or blocked by anything. Have your local fire department check your fire extinguishers regularly to ensure that they will work properly in the event of a fire. And teach everyone in your family how to use a fire extinguisher because you never know who will need to use it.

Step 3

Have an emergency exit plan. Your family is not always together when they're home. So it's not likely that you'll all be able to walk out of the house together. You need to have an emergency exit plan that will help you family to prepare for a fire by leaving your home quickly and safely. Choose a meeting spot where your family can meet away from the fire, and run a few practice drills. For two-storey homes, you may want to have fire ladders in the bedrooms so that, in the event that a hallway is engulfed in flames, family members can exit through windows. Remind your family to leave everything behind and just focus on getting out of the house. Possessions can be replaced - lives cannot.

Step 4

Take inventory of your home. A fire can completely devastate a family. However, you can prepare for a fire by making a list of the items within your home. Your insurance company can then easily replace your items, and you won't be left making a list of what you lost after such a traumatic experience. Keep your inventory list up to date and take pictures of your possessions. Keep the list at a family member's house or in a safe deposit box, away from your home.

Step 5

Make copies of your valuable documents. You can also prepare for a fire by backing up your computer, pictures and legal documents. Make photocopies of anything that would be a hassle to replace, if not impossible. Such things may include wills, deeds, or investment certificates. You should also copy all of your digital photographs on to a CD and store the CD away from your home, either at a family member's home or in a safe deposit box. These memories are irreplaceable, so it's good to have a few copies.

Step 6

Make sure that you're covered. You may assume that your home has fire insurance, but many families are shocked to find out that they're not covered for all (or any) types of fires. Familiarize yourself with your home insurance plan and make sure that you have complete fire coverage.

Step 7

Have an emergency fund. In the event of a fire, you may not be able to find your wallet or purse. In that case, you will need to have some money to live off of until your insurance claim goes through. You can keep a credit card at a family member's house, or you can have a separate fund at your bank that you agree to access only during emergencies. You'll be grateful to have something set away when disaster strikes.


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