10 Tips To Help Prepare For a House Fire


house fires, smoke damage


Have you dealt with smoke or fire in your home?  First, I’ve dealt with smoke damage. Thankfully it didn’t reach the level of a house fire.  It’s been several years, but I remember it like yesterday.  My daughter and her family were visiting for the first time with the new baby. They arrived late, but after a few hours of laughing and talking we headed to bed.

Sometime during the night, I thought I heard the smoke alarm going off. For some season I thought I was dreaming. I remember hearing a knock on my bedroom door.  At that time I heard the smoke alarm and realized it was not a dream.  My daughter yelled, “Mom get out of the house.”  So, I snatched up my grandson and grabbed a blanket off the bed.  I ran out the front door to my car, and placed my grandson in the back seat.  Afterwards, I started the car since it was a pretty cold and moved it to my neighbor’s driveway.  I returned to the house and yelled for my daughter to get the baby out of the house and into the car.

Next, I went back inside to see where my son-in-law was and what had happened since I didn’t see flames anywhere. He explained that he opted not to use the bottle warmer.  But, he decided to use the old school pan and water on the stove method.  He fall asleep waiting for it to warm.  I instructed him to open all of the doors and windows and I headed to the bedroom area to turn on the whole house fan.

Fortunately, it was great in helping to remove the smoke from the house. My glass top cook surface was cracked from the pan.  Unfortunately, it would need to be replaced.  However, everyone was okay and that was truly what was important. My son in law had burned his hand removing the pan, so I got out the first aid kit to tend to it.

Because the entire house smelled like smoke, I turned on the whole house fan.  It sucked the smoke out in no time.  But, it did nothing for the smoke smell.  It lingered and it was embedded in the furniture and window coverings.  I would have to bring in professionals for clean up and contact the insurance company to replace my cook top.  Even so, I knew that it could have turned into a disaster so I was thankful that I was dealing with smoke only.  Also, I was concerned about the baby. She was a preemie and had just gotten out of the hospital a few weeks before the visit.

We ran fans throughout the house, so it was bearable until I could get everything cleaned up.   I made mental notes the entire week-end on what I needed to do to ensure that I was covered in case of a fire.  I had house insurance, but I wanted to make sure everything else was in order too.  Here’s the list that came into fruition:

  1. Working Smoke Alarm(s) – First, make sure your alarms are working and batteries are changed regularly.  If you’re sleeping, they could save yours and your family’s life during a house fire.
  2. Replacement Insurance – Second, make sure your policy covers the replacement value of your items.
  3. Working Fire Extinguishers –  Also, make sure your extinguisher fits your home. My home is electric so I have a Class E and a Class C for my Propane Fryer. My profane fryer is used in my driveway to fry my turkey. Both extinguishers are under my kitchen sink.
  4. Fire Proof Box  – Next, place your insurance policies, credit card numbers, deed and any other important papers in a fire proof box. If possible, place copies  in a Safe Deposit Box as well.
  5. Make Copies Of Photos  – Furthermore, make copies of photos that you will not be able to obtain from a family member for replacement purposes and keep them off-site. Backup your laptop and keep a copy of your laptop pictures on a flash drive off site as well.
  6. Develop An Emergency Exit Plan – Most importantly, develop an exit plan and discuss it with everyone in your household.
  7. Duplicate Keys – Also, duplicate car, house keys and any information that you carry in your purse/wallet.  Finally, place them in a safe location outside of your home. You may not be able to grab your purse or wallet as you’re running for safety during a house fire.
  8. Check Doors and Windows – Additionally, make sure windows can be raised in your home and that all doors are operational.  Everyone must be able to exit the home.  Remember, this is crucial during a house fire.
  9. Take Inventory of Your Household Belongings – This includes furniture, clothing (furs, ball gowns etc.), paintings, jewelry, antiques, collectibles etc. Place a copy of your list and pictures in your Safety Deposit and/or Fire Proof Box.
  10. Have a Backup System To Contact 911 Other Than Your Phone –  My Alarm system has a button for the fire department, 1 for the police and 1 for the ambulance.  I can push it as I’m exiting the house. No conversation is required. I also have a button on my security system key.  I keep it close 24 x 7.

Most importantly, don’t wait until it’s too late to put together a preparation plan.  My smoke incident woke me up in more ways than one.   Finally, don’t be caught unprepared.  Start working on an emergency plan now.  You will want to be prepared for a house fire.