How comfortable are you with fire and just how prepared are you in case a fire starts in your home?
Simple questions, right? No one is thrilled about fire except pyromaniacs and firefighters. And everyone has a smoke alarm in their house. Not so.
A journalist I know who is absolutely petrified of fire happened to be staying at the once-famous MGM grand hotel in Las Vegas for a conference. But when offered a room on the 33rd floor, she refused. The room came with mirrored ceilings, a heart-shaped waterbed, you name it — but she wouldn’t accept. She explained she feared fire and was sure that no fireman’s ladders could reach that high. She was laughed at!
By tragic coincidence, the hotel burned to the ground one week later and everyone who had climbed to the roof to be rescued perished. The ladders only reached as far as nine storeys.
It’s very easy to prepare yourself, your family and your home in case of fire. The problem is that so few of us take the time to do it.
The following are some basic steps that every home-owner and family should be doing to save themselves and their precious belongings from complete destruction:
- Make sure your home is equipped with smoke detectors on every floor, and that each has a working battery. Check the battery once a month.
- If you have a home alarm system, see if it’s set up for fire. If not, is it possible to arrange?
- Is your home equipped with carbon-monoxide monitors? If not, go out and purchase some. The cost is meaningless compared to the horror of the silent killer of a CO leak.
- Equip your home with small, user-friendly fire extinguishers. Again, there should be one on every floor, easily accessible, but out of the reach of small children.
- Do you have an escape route/plan devised in case of emergency? Sit down with the adults in your household and think about it: How would you gather your family in the night? Divide and conquer: You go for the kids, another grabs the pets. Consider what to do if you and your children are on separate floors and the stairway is blocked.
- Do you have an alternate escape route/plan in case the exits you had initially thought you could use are blocked?
- Do you have a way of escaping from the second and third storeys of your home?
- Take photographs of your furniture, art work, any important jewelry — things easily lost in a blaze — and keep them in a safety deposit box.
- Make lists of important items, like your stereo equipment, camera equipment, computers, favourite CDs — in order to help with insurance claims later.
There’s no need to be neurotic or to live in fear. Just organize yourselves once and you’ll be able to sleep easier.