Top 5 Tips to Prepare for and Survive a House Fire

If you and your family ever find yourselves caught in a house fire, the most important priority is to survive—you can make this much more probable by following a few simple tips to get prepared. Remember, it can happen to you, so be ready.

Create an Escape Plan and Meeting Area

Even if it seems silly, one of the smartest ways to prepare for a house fire is to create an escape plan with your family. Make sure that everyone knows where all the exits in the house are, and which ones to use depending on where they are in the house. Encourage your family not to try and put out the fire on their own, and make it clear that safety and survival are paramount.

Once outside the home, designate a meeting location. This area should be nearby, but not too close to the house.

Just like when you were in school, run a home "fire drill". Practicing to escape a house fire and meeting at the designated outdoor location will ensure that everyone knows what to do and how to behave.

Ensure All Exits Are in Good Working Order

Go through all of the doors and windows in your home one by one, and ensure that all of them are in good working order. Doorknobs should be fully functional, and windows shouldn't be sticking. If you find any exit that needs repairs, have it fixed as soon as possible so that it can be used as an escape route in the event of a house fire.

Purchase and Install Fire Safety Equipment

Make sure that your home has working sprinklers and smoke detectors installed. Remember to check their functionality every few months, and if they aren't working, have them prepared. Items that are also useful to have in your home are one or two fire extinguishers in easy-to-access locations, as well as a fire blanket, which is used to cover and hopefully put out a small fire before it spreads.

Protect Your Most Valued Items

If you have important paperwork, pictures or photo albums, or other replaceable items, putting them in a fire-proof safe or a safety deposit box can save them from a house fire.

Ask Your Local Fire Department to Review Your Home

Most local fire departments will be happy to schedule a fire review appointment for no charge. This means that a fireman will come to your home and perform an inspection. They will let you know what you can do to improve your fire safety plan and make other helpful suggestions.