A house fire can strike at any time and move with devastating speed through your home. Homeowners today only have about three minutes to escape, compared with 17 minutes thirty years ago. The use of open floor plans and synthetic materials give fires more fast-burning fuel and fewer obstacles. If a fire starts in your home, you’ll have to act fast or you and your loved ones could lose their lives in the blink of an eye. Knowing what to do in the event of a house fire can prepare you to act swiftly during one.

What to Do During a House Fire

You won’t have much time to escape during a house fire. Taking the following steps could save your life.

Act Fast

At the first sign of fire, be prepared to act. Any sign of smoke, heat, or light from a fire should spur you to take steps to escape.

Get Low

Smoke is the primary threat of a house fire, but if you stay low to the ground and practice moving quickly on it, you can safely avoid much of the threat as you escape.

Touch Doors, Not Handles

If a fire is in the next room behind a door, touching the handle could burn your hand and cost valuable seconds as you try to escape. Touch the door itself with the back of your hand to feel if there is heat on the other side.

Stop, Drop, and Roll

In the event that your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll to smother the flames.

Barricade Yourself

In the event that you are trapped in a room, use a cloth to seal the cracks around the doors and vents leading into the room to keep smoke and noxious fumes out. Call 911 if possible to notify firefighters of your location.

Don’t Go Back In

Once you’ve safely escaped your home, don’t go back inside, no matter how safe it seems. Returning for pets or other members of your household can place yourself and firefighters at risk. Notify them once they arrive at the people left inside your building.

How to Prepare for a House Fire

The best way to survive a house fire is to prepare to escape it.

Create a Plan

If a fire were to erupt in your home right now, what would you do? Creating a fire escape plan for you and your household members that address the following:

  • How to exit from each room
  • How to safely move through the home
  • Where to meet when everyone is safely outside

In a stressful situation, your ability to think calmly and rationally will likely fail, but a pre-existing escape plan can be enough to help you survive.

Practice the Plan Regularly

It’s not enough to create a fire escape plan: you must practice it regulalry. You can enhance your fire escape plan’s effectiveness by practicing it regularly. Consider calling snap drills as well, as a fire won’t happen according to plan either. Instead of being frozen in panic in the event of a house fire, with regular practice, you can rely on muscle memory to carry you to safety.

Test Smoke Detectors Regularly

The key to surviving a modern house fire is early detection of it. One of the best ways to do this is by making sure the fire alarms in our home remain functional with regular testing. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) suggests that people test their smoke alarms monthly and replace the batteries once or twice a year.

Bottom Line

If you’ve been the victim of a house fire, it’s vital to learn the cause so that those responsible for the injury can be held accountable. It may be that your house fire was caused due to a civil rights violation, especially if the home is a rental property and hasn’t been updated with modern safety features. It’s vital to establish the cause of your home fire to determine the true compensation to which you’re entitled and to seek justice for any injuries or deaths you or your loved ones have experienced.