Image of a fireman putting out a fire.

According to the government's disaster preparedness website, www.ready.gov, more than 2,500 people are killed annually from home fires. In addition to those deaths, there are an additional 12,600 injuries that occur each year. Aside from flames, you and your home could also suffer from the effects of smoke and heat. Simply inhaling the hot air surrounding a fire can damage your lungs. It's best to do everything you can to prevent a home fire. Sometimes, however, things go unnoticed and a fire is the result.

Common Causes of Home Fires

  • Cooking mishaps
  • Smoking
  • Electrical and applicance malfunctions
  • Portable space heaters
  • Fireplaces and wood stoves
  • Children
  • Misinformation

Preparing for the Worst

  • Make sure there are two ways out of each room that are not blocked. If this isn't possible, be vigilant that the single exit is never obstructed.
  • Store a reliable, collapsible ladder in each 2nd floor room that has a window you can escape from if you need to.
  • Ensure that all windows in your home are not painted shut, are easily opened by everyone in your home, and have easily removable screens.
  • Have a plan for the best way out of the house from each room. Practice feeling your way out of your home with the lights off.
  • Take your child to the local fire department to introduce them to the idea of firefighters. Let them know they are to be trusted and they shouldn't hide from them.
  • Arrange a common meeting place a safe distance away from your home (ex: a neighbor's yard) and makes sure each family member knows to meet there in the event of house fire.

After a Fire Occurs

  • Once the fire is out, you may be in need of temporary housing until your home is either deemed safe or fully repaired. If this is the case, contact your local disaster relief service, such as The Red Cross. They will provide you with shelter, food, and medicine. IF you do leave your home, contact the police department to inform them that the home will be unoccupied.
  • Contact your insurance company for instructions on protecting your property, taking inventory of the damages, and contacting local restoration companies. If you're not insured, you still have options. Contact private organizations nearby that can offer you air and assistance. Your mortgage company should be contacted, as well.
  • Do NOT enter your home until it has been inspected by the Fire Department. Entering your home prematurely can cause injury.
  • If your home is deemed safe to enter, do not attempt to reconnect any utilities by yourself.
  • Try to locate important documents and records (Medical records, birth certificates, etc.) For information on replacing important documents, visit the U.S Fire Administration's Website.
  • Save all receipts for any money you spend making repairs or disposing of damaged materials. These may be needed in order to verify the losses claimed on your income tax.

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