When a fire strikes, there's little time to react. The best way to respond safely and effectively to a fire is to plan ahead, and that also goes for knowing which important items you should save. While the safety of you and your family is always paramount, it's also possible to safeguard important documents and belongings from the ravages of a home fire. In this post, we'll look at ways to save what's important while implementing an effective fire safety plan for your home.
A home fire may seem unlikely, but the reality is that thousands of people in the U.S. are killed or injured each year in residential fires, according to Ready.gov. Luckily, you can greatly reduce your risk of harm by having a fire safety plan already in place before disaster strikes. Like any family emergency plan, it's important to make sure that everyone in the household is familiar with the plan and can act quickly if a fire occurs. Because seconds count, planning ahead could literally mean the difference between life and death.
Fire Safety Plan Essentials
The most important thing that a fire safety plan should do is ensure the wellbeing of your family members. Everyone in the family should know how to escape from each room in the home and, once it's safe, how to call 911. Consider drawing a map of the home with escape routes that can be kept in each room, especially bedrooms. Periodically review and practice escape procedures with children. A fire extinguisher can help to avert a major disaster, so family members should also know where fire extinguishers are placed and how to use them.
Knowing What to Save
Smart fire planning includes being ready to grab and save important items when there are only moments to spare. It should go without saying, but this step should only be carried out by an adult – for children, reaching safety is of top importance. Critical items you may want to save from a fire include:
- Social Security cards
- Birth certificates
- Medical records
- Marriage records
- Car and home titles
- Family photos or heirlooms
Keep these items in a single bag or binder that you can quickly grab on your way out of the home. Always keep in mind, however, that fires spread quickly and you may not be able to reach your valuables during an escape. For this reason, consider investing in a fireproof document storage device such as a home fire safe, many of which are capable to surviving fires of varying intensity. Check the fire rating on different storage devices to select the best one for you.
It's also a good idea to keep scans of your critical documents as well as backups of all your computer files on a storage device that you can grab and take with you. Better yet, keep a regular backup of these files at a separate location or in the cloud, so that your digital records are always safe and secure.
Fire can cost lives and destroy homes. The best way to prepare for a home fire is with a safety plan everyone in the home understands. With the right planning and smart execution, you can keep your family safe and, hopefully, preserve important documents and items that can be difficult or impossible to replace. And if disaster should strike, contact ServiceMaster Restore® for expert fire and smoke damage removal services to make your home safe and comfortable once more. We hope it's a call you never have to make, but if you do, we'll be here for you.