Fire protection is incredibly important in the winter months, with December, January, February and March having the highest concentration of heating equipment related fires. Space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for two of every five (40%) of home heating fires, other common causes are candles, cooking and improper chimney cleaning. Having smoke and carbon monoxide detectors is incredibly important, but having a monitored smoke detector can be even more so. Since 1995 the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) has required new builds to have an electrically wired smoke detector system on every level and outside of all sleeping areas. But what most people don't think about is these type of detectors are only good if you are at home and can hear them. With monitored detectors, you home is constantly protected, whether you are home or not. Monitored detectors are activated when they sense smoke, high heat or low temperatures. Once they detect these situations, the monitoring facility is instantly notified and the proper authorities are dispatched. In many instances fires occur while you are away from home, leaving pets and your home vulnerable to loss. While house fires are not something generally on peoples minds, having protection beforehand can literally be a life saver. As a victim of a house fire and total loss, one of the first things I had done before moving in to my new home was my monitored smoke detectors. I was at home asleep when my house caught fire. There was no telling how long I had actually slept before being awoken by my dog and smoke detectors going off. My husband and I were thankfully able to escape just a few minutes before our room was engulfed in flames. We were so lucky to have made it out alive.
Here are a few tips that can help your family be prepared in the event of a fire:
Have an escape plan. Make sure you have a main exit plan as well as alternate routes if your main plan is located in the path of the fire.
Make sure all windows and doors are easily accessible for an exit. The last thing you want to be worried about in the event of a fire is cutting yourself on glass because you can't get a window open.
Have a "go" bag ready with identifying documents (passport, birth certificates, etc.) One thing we had a hard time with after our fire was getting a new drivers license since we lost all identifying documents in our fire.
Keep your keys, wallet and purse close!We generally kept our keys, wallets and purse in the kitchen or wherever it happened to be set down once we got home for the day. Car keys are EXPENSIVE and can sometimes be difficult to obtain without the proper documentation.
Keep pets close. If you kennel your pets for bedtime, try to keep them in your bedroom or close to, so they are easily accessible. As scary as our house fire was for us, it was equally terrifying for our dogs! To this day (7 years later) my dog is still scared of fires.
Keep your home maintained. If you have any question or doubt about your electrical, heating or any other fire causing item in your home, have it repaired!