What to Do if There's a Fire in Your House?

What to Do if There's a Fire in Your House?

A fire outbreak in a home is a scariest crisis. In Canada, these incidents occur more frequently in December and March. These periods are when heating systems are in full use. Note that holiday decorations can add additional risks. But the first step to take to ensure your safety is preparedness. This guide will make you fully aware of what to do if the crisis breaks out in your property. You will learn how to guard yourself, your family, and your property from the understanding of common causes to taking preventive measures.

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What Is the Most Common Cause of House Fires in Canada?

In Canada, house fires usually result from the following. The leading cause is unattended cooking, which provides a good channel for pots and pans left on stoves to quickly light up. The second cause is from cigarettes not properly put out. Most often, smokers fall asleep with a lit cigarette, or they carelessly throw it away after use. The close third is when candles are left unattended, especially near things like curtains or furniture that can catch fire.

Also, as the months become colder, so does the increase in the use of heating equipment, that translates into an increased risk of house fires. Misused space heaters can get too hot or tip over and simply start a fire with flammable objects around them. Fireplaces and chimneys are other cases. They have the potential to build up creosote ( a highly ignitable substance that can create flames) deeply if not cleaned regularly. There are also electrical fires. They run rampant from faulty wiring, overloaded circuits, or even misuse of electronic appliances.

Another contributory factor is the Christmas trees and decorations. Dry Christmas trees can go up like a matchstick, and faulty lights or overloading electrical sockets can lead to a fire outbreak. Statistically speaking, the majority of house fires take place during the winter months due to the above intermingling elements.

What to Do Before Household Fires?

The very first action you should take is to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on all floors. Ensure they are tested monthly, and batteries are changed after six months, especially in daylight savings time: in March and November. Smoke alarms provide an early warning that can only help allow you time to escape with your family.

Make an evacuation plan and practice escaping the house. Everyone should know how to come out of each room, if feasible, from at least two different routes. Designate a safe meeting place outside the home. There is one more thing if you live in an apartment building or high-rise. Here, you need to learn where the nearest fire exits are and never use the elevator. Besides, periodic drills can ensure that everyone can leave the house quickly and safely in the event of a fire.

Fire extinguishers are helpful when immediately coping with a small fire. Therefore, make sure that at least one is available on each house floor, and assign it to someone knowing how to use one, remembering the PASS technique. Pull the pin, aim the nozzle at the fire base, squeeze the handle, and sweep it sideways. But if it is too big or spreading fast, get out immediately while calling 911.

Precautions must also be taken. Clean chimneys annually to prevent the build-up of creosote. Also, keep at least one meter distance between flammable things and sources of heat. Don't leave cooking, candles, or space heaters unattended. Finally, teach children about the dangers of these disasters and ensure they are away from matches and lighters.

What to Do During Household Fires?

If a fire does start in your property, a quick and decisive step is imperative. Below is what to do during this emergency:

  • Evacuate: Follow your evacuation plan and take everyone out of the house without stopping for anything. Get out with everyone safely.
  • Check Doors to a Fire: Test doors with the back of your hand before opening them. If it feels warm, do not open the door. Try to find another way out.
  • Stay Low to Avoid Smoke: Remember, smoke rises. When attempting to leave a building or a car, keep as low to the ground as possible to avoid toxic smoke. If you must, crawl to the nearest exit.
  • Use Wet Towels. If you can't move out, close and put wet towels under the doors to keep smoke out. Next, dial 9-1-1 and update them about your location. Wave a bright cloth out the window. You can move a flashlight around to draw attention.
  • Designated Meeting Place: Once outside, go to your designated meeting place. Account for all persons staying with you. Do not re-enter the property for any reason.
  • Call the Fire Department: Contact 9-1-1 from a safe post and update them about the incident.
  • Assist Vulnerable People: Help the kids, the elderly, and those with disabilities to get out safely. 
  • Do Not Use elevators. If you stay in a high-rise property, go for the stairs. Elevators are not recommended in this case. This is because they can stop working due to emergencies. Also, they can be filled with smoke in case of fire.

What to Do After Household Fires?

Once the fire is out, the recovery process begins. Here's what to do after a house fire:

  • Wait for Authorization: Return to your home only when officials have deemed it safe. The structure may be unstable, and there could be hidden dangers such as hot spots or structural damage.
  • Check in on vulnerable people: Check all relatives, friends, and neighbors who may need exceptional help to ensure they are safe and accounted for.
  • Seek medical care: A medical practitioner must take care of all injuries. Fumes inhalation and burns have dire health effects.
  • Temporary Housing: Sometimes the incident can make it impossible for you to return to your home. In this case, you need a non-permanent dwelling place. Therefore, consider contacting your local government office or the Red Cross for help.
  • Insurance Claims: Notify your agency immediately to initiate the claims process. Document with pictures of all the damages. Also, keep each receipt for any expenses due to the hazard.
  • Clean Up Safely: Make this possible by wearing proper personal protective equipment. These include boots, safety glasses, and rubber gloves. Note that soot and smoke result in toxicants. It may take many repeated cleanings to remove smoke odors and stains from household items.
  • Inventory of Damaged Items: List and document all damaged items or those destroyed for total compensation from the insurance. This could be furniture, appliances, personal property, and books. Keep all receipts for living expenses, repair, and replacement. 
  • Food and Water Safety: Throw away any meal that has come into contact with fumes, heat, or soot.

How to Avoid House Fires?

Avoiding house fires requires vigilance and being proactive. Some of the measures that you need to take to prevent house fires include the following:

  • Periodic Maintenance: Heating systems, chimneys, and electrical wiring should be kept under periodic check-ups. The chimney should be cleaned annually, and professionals should perform heating systems.
  • Safe Cooking Practices: Never leave baking unattended. Keep things that can catch fire away from the stove. Also, use a timer to remind you when the meal is cooking.
  • Be careful with using candles and cigarettes: Lanterns should never be left unwatched. Don't place them within the reach of combustible materials. Besides, cigarettes should be thoroughly put out without smoking inside.
  • Safe Heating Practices: Place space warmers at least one metre away from flammable materials. Turn them off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Holiday Decorations: Christmas trees must be watered generously. Moreover, only approved lights must be applied. Be absolutely in no hurry to pile up electrical outlets with more and more holiday lights. 
  • Family Education: Educate every family member on fire safety. Hold evacuation-plan practices so everyone understands exactly what to do if a fire breaks out.

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Final Thoughts

House fires pose a serious risk, but with the proper preparation and corresponding response, you can protect your home and loved ones. Prioritize to understand what causes them, ensure you minimize the risks, and most importantly, know what to do before, during, and after the incident. Doing all these could save a life. Most important, though, is getting a reliable backup battery system for home power for peace of mind and ensure continuous power during emergencies.

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