5 steps to help keep your family fire-safe - HMS National, Inc.

5 steps to help keep your family fire-safe

June 16, 2014

One of the first things you learn as a youngster when it comes to safety is never to play with matches. All it takes is one strike and an entire house can go up in flames in no time. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, there are more than 350,000 home structure fires in the U.S. each year.

No matter how a fire occurs, however, the No. 1 priority is to ensure that everyone gets out safe. A great way to ensure this is by conducting a family escape plan.

Take a look at these tips for how to practice and implement an effective strategy in the event of a fire.

1. Map it out. Whether it's through the doors or nearby windows, there are usually several avenues of escape in the event of a fire. Some are better than others, though, depending on where the fire is. Draw a map of your home as accurately as possible to identify where these access points are.

2. Ensure that fire alarms are working. Fire officials say that the best fire safety defense is a smoke detector. Every few months or so, check all your alarms to ensure that the batteries are working. There should be a "test" button that emits a sound alerting everyone of danger. Press it to make sure it's working and is loud enough.

3. Explain the nature of fires. If you have young kids, they may not know that heat rises. This is important to be aware of because if a room is full of smoke and it's difficult to see or breathe, the best way of getting out safely is by crawling on the ground. Family members should ideally crawl or crouch to get out of a smoke-filled room and cover their mouths and noses to avoid inhaling fumes.

4. Establish meeting place. You may get separated when escaping your home. In order to ensure everyone is OK, pick a rendezvous point on the property to gather at that's a safe distance from the home, such as next to a tree or open area on your property.

5. Practice, practice, practice. A home fire escape plan is pointless if no one remembers it. A few times each year, run through a scenario with your family to see how quickly everyone can get to the designated meeting place. The faster it's done, the safer everyone will be.

The information in these articles is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.