With the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, you and your family have likely been staying at home much more often than usual in recent weeks. It’s vital that we practice proper social distancing and stay home to keep the virus from spreading further; however, it’s important to keep some fire safety tips in mind as you go about your day.
General Fire Safety
You should also check your smoke detectors to make sure they work, replacing batteries if necessary. If you don’t have easily accessible fire extinguishers in your home, consider acquiring one or two; if you do have some, check them to make sure they’re current. Make sure you know how to properly operate your fire extinguisher.
What to Do in Case of a Fire
The most important thing to do in case of an uncontrolled fire is to get out of your house, stay out, and call for help. Yell “Fire!” several times and go outside immediately. If you live in a building with elevators, use the stairs. Don’t worry about your things: focus on saving yourself.
Have a backup route out of your home in case your primary route becomes blocked with smoke or fire. Always test to see if a closed door or handle is warm to the touch before opening it; if they are warm, use your alternate route.
If you must escape through smoke, go low to the ground and crawl under the smoke to get to your exit. Close any doors behind you.
If all your exit routes are blocked, stay in the room with the doors closed. Place a wet towel under the door and call 911 for help. Open a window and wave to signal for help to anyone outside.
Once you are outside, go to your family’s designated meeting place and send one person to call the fire department to avoid confusion. If you cannot get to your meeting place, follow your family’s emergency communication plan.
What Not to Do
The first thing to avoid when your home is on fire: NEVER worry about retrieving anything or anyone – that only puts you in more danger. Focus on getting out, staying out, and calling for help. The sooner the professionals arrive on scene, the better chance that the situation can be safely contained.
Never open doors that are warm to the touch.
Make a Family Fire Escape Plan
If your entire family is quarantined together, this is a great time to review your family’s fire safety plan. Every household should have a procedure in place in case of a fire: what not to do, which exits you will use, an emergency communication plan, and where to meet once you get outside of the house. Practice this plan with your entire family a couple times until you’re confident that everyone gets it.
This time of uncertainty can be stressful on us all; however, the most important thing is to remain calm and practice general home safety as you always do. The sooner we all get through this, the sooner life can return to normal.