With the dry air, grass, and hot weather, Mother Nature isn’t going to do you any favors. To prepare for such a disaster, you can follow some dos and don’ts of fire safety.
DO keep a fire extinguisher on every level of your house. There are four different classes of a fire (labeled A, B, C, and D), and most home or office fire extinguishers only need to cover A, B, and C. Make sure to also keep an extinguisher in the kitchen, basement, and garage.
DON’T assume that buckets of water will do the trick. Some fires might be gas- or oil-related, which cannot be put out by water.
DO check your fire alarms regularly. And if you haven’t already, install carbon monoxide detectors. Alarms should be located on every floor of the house. Local codes, however, might require more, so check with your fire department or building-code official for more information. For maximum protection, install both ionization and photoelectric alarms to detect a fast-moving fire or a slow, smoldering one.
DON’T place alarms on the floor or near air vents. The alarms should always be placed on or near the ceiling. Also, don’t forget to change the batteries every 6 months.
DO prepare an escape plan. Teach your kids, in case they’re in a fire, to stay calm, stay low, and feel doors with the backs of their hands. Figure out possible routes to exit the house and where to meet after they escape. Make sure each member of the family practices exiting the house on their hands and knees and maybe even blindfolded, since some passageways might be filled with dense smoke.
DON’T try to save items in the house. Don’t try to chase after pets and don’t try to get dressed. Under no circumstances should you or your children try to re-enter the house. Call 911 as soon as you’re outside and immediately state your location. Firemen (or if you’re lucky and your neighbor is Mayor Cory Booker) are trained to enter hazardous areas and can rescue victims inside the house.
There is only so much we can do to prevent a fire in the house. And until there’s a magical paint that repels sparks, we can do nothing about our neighbors who blast off illegal fireworks either. What we do have control over is preparing our houses and our families for the worst.