A house fire can be a traumatic experience. Not only is your home at risk, but your family and pets are as well. It is important to know how to deal with a fire in your home so that you can minimize the damage and ensure everyone’s safety. In this guide, we will discuss what to do if a fire breaks out in your home, as well as some prevention tips.
The closest we’ve come to a house fire is a small kitchen fire. One of my daughters wanted to make nachos with leftover corn chips. I told her how to spread the chips on the baking pan, how to add the grated cheese, how to turn on our small toaster oven. I forgot to tell her to watch the cheese melt and stop the oven when the cheese looked gooey. I realized this when I began to smell smoke and saw it coming out of the toaster oven.
When I opened the oven door, immediately the cheese on the chips burst into flames. I grabbed an oven mitt (hanging by the oven), pulled the pan from the oven, and went straight out the back kitchen door to put the pan down on the deck. The chips continued to burn on the pan, so I pulled our fire extinguisher out from under the kitchen sink and (for the first time in my life) pointed it at the chips and pulled the nozzle. In seconds, the fire was out.
That was our brief moment of excitement. My kids were rather scared and frantic about the whole situation, but I was able to calmly and quickly figure out what to do. The smell of smoke, unfortunately, stayed in the kitchen for the next week. It seemed to have seeped into all the cupboards above the toaster oven, and even when I scrubbed the cupboard doors, the smell lingered. It was, overall, a good learning experience about what to do in a small fire.
A bigger home fire is, of course, another matter. However, knowing what to do in such circumstances can help us all stay calm and react quickly and sensibly to the fire.
How to Deal with a Home Fire
Fire hazards are never fun, but they are an unfortunate reality. Having a fire in your home can easily cause panic, but it is important to stay calm and follow some simple steps. Everything from finding out how to clean soot and smoke to salvage your belongings after a fire, to ensuring your family’s safety, is important to know.
Logically, you will want to aim at precautionary measures first so that you can avoid fire altogether. However, no one has ever planned a house fire and they can easily catch you by surprise. Hence, you need to have a plan in place for when it does occur and make sure that all the kids know how to respond to the emergency too.
Stay calm and follow instructions
If a fire does break out in your home, the first thing you should do is stay calm. This can be difficult, especially if you have small children or pets, but it is important to remain calm so you can think clearly and follow instructions. Plus, the kids will likely follow your example. If you can remain calm, it’s more likely that they will also stay calm and follow your instructions.
The most important thing to do when there is a fire in your home is to evacuate immediately. Do not try to fight the fire yourself, as this can be incredibly dangerous. Instead, focus on getting yourself and your family out of the house as quickly and safely as possible.
If you have time, you can grab some essential belongings, but do not waste time trying to gather up everything. The most important thing is to get out of the house and to safety. Once you are outside, do not go back inside for any reason.
Call the fire department
Once you are out of the house, the next step is to call the fire department. Use your cell phone or run to the neighbour’s place if necessary. The department will find the best approach and solution to the fire, both due to their knowledge and experience with them. In some cases, they may even be able to help you salvage some of your belongings.
However, do not go back into your home until the fire department has given you the all-clear. More importantly, do not try to fight the fire yourself. This can lead to serious injuries, potential issues, or even fatal outcomes.
What to Do After the Fire
Wait for the smoke to evaporate
Fires create a toxic environment, even after they have been extinguished. This is because of the smoke and soot that are left behind. It is important to wait for the smoke to clear before you go back into your home. If possible, open windows and doors to help ventilate the area and speed up the process. Once the smoke has cleared, you can begin cleaning up the damage.
Start cleaning the soot
Once the smoke has cleared, you will need to start cleaning up the soot. Soot is a fine, powdery substance that can be difficult to remove. However, this does not mean that cleaning soot is impossible. First, try using a damp cloth to wipe down surfaces. This will help to loosen the soot. You can also use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove the soot from carpeting and upholstery. Finally, you can use a commercial soot remover to help get rid of stubborn stains.
How to Prevent a Fire
There are a few things you can do to prevent fires in your home. First, it is important to have working smoke detectors. These can alert you to a fire before it gets out of control. You should also create a family fire escape plan so that everyone knows what to do in the event of a fire. Finally, you should never leave candles or other open flames unattended. Thinking about prevention is just as important as knowing what to do if a fire does break out.
One way to discuss this topic with your children is through fun kids books that can offer a variety of tips in a memorable, less scary manner. Here are some ideas to get you started (these are affiliate links):
- Fire Safety With Roy (Mya Kids Safety Series)
- No Dragons for Tea: Fire Safety for Kids (and Dragons)
- Fire Safety (Safe Kids)
If you and your kids both know what to do in the case of a fire, everyone is more likley to remain calm. Fire safety should be reviewed once a year (as it is at schools) so consider marking a “home fire safety” day on the calendar to review this with your kids. Pull out some books, run a fire drill, and quiz your kids on what to do in particular situations.
A house fire is a devastating event, but it is important to remain calm and follow the instructions of the fire department. The most important thing is to evacuate immediately and call the fire department. Once the smoke has cleared, you can begin cleaning up the damage. There are a few things you can do to prevent fires in your home, such as having working smoke detectors and creating a family fire escape plan. By being prepared, you can help to keep your family safe in the event of a fire.