What to Do During & After a House Fire
The National Fire Protection Association’s 2019 Home Structure Fires Report indicates that there is an average of 354,400 home structure fires every year and that those fires result in 2,620 deaths and 11,220 injuries.
In other words, house fires continue to be a common problem for homeowners and so it is in all homeowners’ best interests to be prepared for them.
So what can you do to survive a house fire and what should you do after a fire as well?
Surviving a House Fire
The biggest key to surviving a house fire is to be prepared should one occur. That means you need to develop an escape plan now and let your entire family know about it.
In fact, you should go one step further and actually have your family practice the escape plan several times a year.
If a fire actually occurs, it is natural for those caught in the fire to panic. By practicing your escape plan hopefully family members will know exactly what they need to do and will avoid the mistakes that can come from panicking in an emergency situation.
If your home has more than one floor you should equip all rooms upstairs that have windows with a rope ladder than can be used in the event of a fire when an emergency exit is needed. These ladders can typically be bought at stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot for approximately $30 to $50.
Test Smoke Alarms
I know it can be bothersome to test smoke alarms or to replace their batteries on a consistent schedule but truthfully few things are more important to surviving a house fire than having properly functioning smoke alarms.
Without a functioning smoke alarm there is a good chance that you will not wake up during a house fire at night – so test those smoke alarms frequently!
Stock Up on Fire Extinguishers
Another great thing you can do to increase your chances of surviving a house fire is to stock your home with multiple fire extinguishers. Place them in strategic locations throughout your home so that you can extinguish a house fire quickly before it has a chance to get out of control and cause serious damage.
Always Check for Heat
If you are caught in a house fire, always be sure to check doors for heat by touching them before opening them. First, check for smoke coming from underneath or along the side of the door. If there is no smoke then touch the door to feel for heat.
Just because there isn’t a fire in the room you are in doesn’t mean there isn’t one next door. Failure to check for heat could allow the fire to surge in and overwhelm you when you open the door. Be cautious!
If you need to move during a house fire be sure to get as low to the ground as possible and crawl. Smoke rises so the best air to breathe will be at floor level. At least, be prepared to get on your hands and knees and you may even need to go as far as down onto your stomach.
Use a Wet Rag
If you have time, wet a rag or towel or a piece of clothing and cover your nose and mouth with it. This will help filter the smoke and keep you from breathing it in. Often, one of the biggest problems with fires is smoke inhalation. People breathe in smoke and pass out. Wetting a rag and covering your mouth and nose will help prevent this.
Once Outside, Stay Outside
Once you make it outside during a house fire, resist the urge to go back inside to save possessions.
Remember, these items are just that – items. They can be replaced. Don’t risk you health and safety for physical possessions.
Stock Up on Emergency Kits
In addition to fire extinguishers, another item you should stock up on is emergency aid kits. Put them near your home’s exits so that they can be grabbed as you and other family members make your way outside.
This way you can treat any injuries once you are outside and safe from the fire.
What About After the Fire?
Unfortunately, once you survive a house fire you don’t really have time to rest and assess what has happened. There are actions you need to take.
After calling the fire department to put out the blaze, you will need to contact your insurance agent to begin the process of receiving an insurance settlement.
Insurance companies want to be contacted as soon as possible after a fire so you should plan on calling them right away. Most companies have a 24/7 hotline for the reporting of fires.
Read Your Policy
After calling your agent, you will want to read your insurance policy so that you can fully comply with it and to see exactly what is covered and what is not.
In particular, you should look at the Declarations Page, which is a one-page summary that identifies the property being insured and the policy period. It also lists the amount of the insurance, deductibles, endorsements and the home owners’ names.
You should also look at the insuring agreement, the damaged items section and the exclusions section. You will also want to look at the coverages section which describes the property covered and lists any limits or restrictions for certain classes or locations of property.
The Settlement & Repair Process
From there you will work with your insurance agent to have your fire damaged house inspected and repaired if you so choose.
If you decide that you want to avoid the lengthy and often stressful repair process, another option is to sell your fire damaged house and use that money along with your insurance settlement to buy a new house.
If you decide to sell, We Buy Fire Damaged Houses is known for paying a good price quickly to owners of burned houses.
Just fill out the short form below to learn more about us and to see if your home qualifies for an offer.