About 64% of civilian deaths and 54.4% of all civilian casualties are caused by one- and two-family home fires. Apartment structure fires, on the other hand, are responsible for about 10.5% of deaths and injuries.
The reason why the disparity is so great (even though even in apartment fires, the numbers are horrifying) is because these apartment buildings usually take fire safety more seriously. They usually have a fire escape plan, fire extinguishers in multiple spots, and commercial fire safety inspectors visiting regularly.
If there’s anything that we can learn from this is that by being more active and paying more attention to the fire hazard, a lot of tragic instances can be avoided. Now, bear in mind that fire on your property doesn’t always occur as a result of a human error. It doesn’t even have to be caused by a grid flaw. In the age of climate change, some of the completely logical solutions are no longer as safe.
Still, here are a couple of things you can do to protect your home as best as you can.
Install Smoke Alarms and Sprinklers
Even if you know absolutely everything there is to know about fire safety and extinguishing fire, the truth is that you can’t rely on your ability to perform well under pressure. When in fear for your safety and that of your family, your first instinct is to grab them all and run out. This is a solid plan, but it also means that you’re not rushing to the fire extinguisher and trying to senate the damage in time.
This is what is so great about smoke alarms and sprinklers. They work automatically. This means that regardless of your state of mind (or whether you’re not at home at all), they’re going to do what they’re designed to do. This means that you can protect your family (just in case) and have the fire stopped at the same time.
Another thing you need to consider is the response time. Smoke alarms and sprinklers are automated. So, they’ll act immediately. Response time from a human is unreliable, at best.
Get a Fire Extinguisher
While it’s safest to just get out of your home if the fire starts getting rampant, the truth is that some scenarios are not as dangerous right away. For instance, abandoning your home because of an oven grease fire is a horrible overreaction. With a simple fire extinguisher, this problem can be resolved in a matter of seconds, and your home is protected from some serious (and expensive) property damage.
The first thing to know when buying a fire extinguisher is that getting one that’s listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory is of the highest priority. Just look for the letters on the extinguisher and google their meanings. This will inform you of the types of fire that these extinguishers are capable of extinguishing. Generally speaking, you have four extinguisher classes:
- Class A (wood, paper, plastic)
- Class B (oil, gas, petroleum)
- Class C (electrical fires)
- Class D (magnesium, potassium, sodium)
Now, having class D might be an overkill for your home (in the majority of scenarios), but the first three classes can come in quite handy.
Use Fire-Rated Insulation
The biggest problem with household fires lies in the fact that, once it gets started, the surrounding materials tend to be quite combustible. This means that the spread soon becomes exponential, and it becomes impossible for you to contain it.
One of the riskiest elements is your wall insulation. This is why ensuring that you have fire-rated insulation makes such a world of a difference.
Sure, you don’t have to make your entire home fireproof. However, it would be ideal if you could, strategically, be a bit more careful when it comes to materials around the potential fire source. Keeping flammable materials next to heaters, ovens, or even power sockets can be a bad idea.
As we’ve already mentioned, sometimes the source of fire comes from the outside. With all of these climate changes in play, you might want to take some time to think about creating a fire-stopping landscape on your property, especially around your home. This is so great for stopping a wildfire.
Keep in mind that having solar panels, while a great idea, might add additional risk. Therefore, make sure you follow all the necessary regulations.
There’s so much you can do here. For instance, you can drastically reduce the potential for wildfire by pruning lower branches on a tree. By creating a more open structure, you’re reducing the chance that the tree will catch fire. Dead leaves and branches at the base are the most flammable part. By tackling this, you’re already making a difference.
The distance between trees and shrubs also gives you some leeway. You see, avoiding any kind of shrubbery to reduce the risk of fire is just a bad idea. All you need to do is ensure that there’s enough distance.
Places You Least Suspect
One last thing you need to understand is that fire hazard sometimes hides in the place where you least expect them. Your deck is a potential hazard, and the same goes for a clogged vent. A clogged vent is a double hazard seeing as how it will make the effects of smoke more impactful.
Also, keep in mind that you have a plan of escape at every point. More importantly, these escape points need to be accessible. A stuck window that won’t budge is a huge problem, same as a garage that you can’t access from indoors because you’ve stacked too many boxes (or even a shelf) on a door to utilize the place better.
In the end, ensuring that your home is fire-free is not just about making you and your family safe – it’s about helping you feel safe, as well. If the idea that your home is not ready for an emergency is constantly somewhere in the back of your mind, you’ll have a hard time relaxing inside your own home. This can also impact your lifestyle by making you overcautious. Either way, with just a bit of careful planning and some research, you can easily make your place feel a lot safer.