Reviewed by Chuck Roydhouse
Updated September 11, 2023
Your home is your castle, your haven from the cares and stresses of the world. So, it stands to reason that you want to make sure your home is safe as possible so you can enjoy its peace and its comfort free of worry.
One unpleasant threat to homeowners, one that no one likes to ponder, is fire. Yes, there is homeowner’s insurance to address the property damage caused by fire, but the policy cannot magically cure injuries, reverse accidental deaths or conjure lost property from cinders. Therefore, the best remedy is prevention and planning. If you do your best to prevent fire and prepare in the event that one occurs, there is a better chance that you’ll cope well if a fire does break out in your home.
The first step in preventing injury from fire is to install smoke alarms throughout your home; newscasts regularly report fires that spread because the residences had no smoke alarms. The smell of smoke alone won’t necessarily wake you up; in fact, the fumes could cause you to sleep more deeply.
Mount the smoke alarms outside each room and check them twice a year. Make it part of your routine to check the batteries each spring and fall when you change the clocks – it’s easy to remember. Change the batteries annually.
Next, it’s time to create an escape plan from each room in the house; you should have two options per room, in case one exit is blocked by fire. Map the layout of the house, mark the escape routes and post this on your refrigerator where everyone can see it and be certain that everyone knows the escape plans. If a fire escape ladder is needed, make sure to test it before if you can so you know how to use it in an emergency.
Designate a safe place for your family to rendezvous outside the house in the event of an escape from fire. Then, hold a family fire drill at least twice a year: press the smoke alarm button or yell “fire” and ensure that everyone leaves the house and meets at your designated rendezvous spot. Pretend that the fire has started in a different room each time so no one becomes complacent.
Create an emergency communication plan for your family so that if you can’t meet at your designated rendezvous spot or you get separated, everyone knows whom to call to advise them of their safety and whereabouts. Make sure to inform the designated contact of their potential involvement, and ensure that everyone in the family knows their phone number(s) and address by heart.
In the event that you do have a house fire, make sure your family members know what to do to get out of the building safely:
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Of course, the ideal situation would be never having to put any of your fire safety plans into action. The best way to ensure that is to do your best to prevent fires in the first place. Here are some practical fire prevention tips. For more information, access a complete guide for preventing common household fires.
Wondering where house fires occur in the home? Check out the infographic below to find out
Want to learn more? Visit our Home and Personal Safety resource centre to find more information about protecting your family and your home. Or, get an online quote in under 5 minutes and find out how affordable personalized home insurance can be.
About the expert: Chuck Roydhouse
Chuck Roydhouse is a retired professional firefighter, owner of Clean Sweep of Anne Arundel County, and President of CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America). He has a degree in Fire Science & Safety from Shepherd University and 25 years of experience as a career firefighter. Chuck has been serving the chimney industry for 30 years as a CSIA Master Chimney Sweep.
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