5 fire safety tips for your home

5 fire safety tips for your home

Private Property South Africa
Cath Jenkin

Fire safety is often an afterthought for homeowners. Don’t let it be yours: installing fire safety equipment and implementing an evacuation plan is essential. Here are five ways you can keep your family and home safe:

1. Ditch the illusion

The phrase “it’ll never happen to me” should never be uttered, especially when it comes to ensuring your home and family’s safety. We often pay keen attention to physical security measures, but sometimes forget that fire safety is important too. Installing fire safety and prevention equipment should be mission-critical for every homeowner.

2. Install a fire extinguisher
There’s no debate on this: you should have, at least, one functioning, easily accessible fire extinguisher in your home. The best time to install a fire extinguisher is: today. The worst time is: when you need one in a hurry. Installing fire extinguishers in the kitchen, garage, and one near the bedrooms is important. Make sure they’re fitted and checked by a registered service provider.

3. Smoke alarms are essential
Installing smoke alarms is a proactive fire safety measure, that can save lives and help you prevent total destruction of your home. They serve as an early alert system and must be installed by a qualified service provider. Check that your smoke alarms are in perfect working order, at least once a month.

4. A family fire plan
Now that you’re thinking seriously about your home’s fire safety options, it’s time to get the whole family on board. Before you start installing equipment, it’s important to figure out an evacuation plan for everyone.

A good evacuation plan has six important components:

  • The right equipment: If you live in a double-storey home, you’ll need to buy collapsible fire escape ladders. Store them on the upper storey, close to the windows.
  • The right routes: Plot, and practice using, at least two escape routes out of your home, so that your family knows what to do in any eventuality.
  • The right approach: The earlier you get everyone involved, the faster everyone will respond in an emergency. Run your family through your fire evacuation plan at least twice a year.
  • The right responsibilities: If you have children, make sure they understand the route, practice it, and know not to turn back to collect a favourite toy. Adults can take the responsibility for picking up pets along their way out of the house, but never turn back into a burning house, after you’ve escaped. A designated adult should ensure that elderly or sick members of the family are quickly and safely escorted out of the house.
  • The right technique: Having your clothes catch alight can be life-threatening, so every member of the family should practice their “stop, drop, and roll” technique as part of the bi-annual fire evacuation drill.
  • The right contacts: Ensure every member of your family knows how to call for help. Set emergency services, your security company, and the fire brigade, as speed dial contacts on your cellphone, and teach children how to make the call in an emergency.

5. Be a sensible smoker
It’s a terrible habit, but one that many of us indulge in, even if it’s just an after-work smoke. Be sensible about your smoking and don’t smoke indoors; it’s bad for everyone’s health and can stain your home’s internal walls. Make sure cigarettes are properly extinguished and leave a little water in your ashtray to ensure this.

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