Imagine waking up one morning to the sound of crashing waves, birds chirping, and the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through your house. The perfect day, right? Wrong.
If you’re reading this, then most likely you’re awake to the sound of banging drums, yelling, and police sirens. You’ve just had a house fire, and your adrenaline is rushing while your mind is trying to process what happened.
The question is, what should you do now? How should you act? What should you say?
While it’s important to remain calm and collected, you also need to start thinking about your safety. Your safety, and the safety of your family. What actions should you take, and which ones should you avoid?
The following will discuss what you should do in the event of a house fire, based on national fire codes and standards, as well as common sense.
The first thing you should do after a fire alarm is sounded is to call for help. You should not attempt to handle this situation on your own. There are trained professionals who can help you mitigate the damage to your home, and protect your family.
If possible, you should call 9-1-1 before entering your home to check for hot spots and determine the cause of the fire. The type of phone call you make will depend on the size of your home, and the number of people who live there with you. If you’re uncertain of the right number to call, then ask a neighbor or someone you know to help you.
After you’ve called for help, it’s important to check for damage to the building and its contents. Start by looking around the area where the fire started, and see if there’s any visible damage. Once you’ve determined there’s no visible damage, then you can begin searching for hidden damage. The best way to do this is by taking a room at a time. Check the bathroom first, then the bedrooms, then the kitchen, and so forth. Look for signs of smoke damage, as well as any other damage that could have been caused by the fire. You should also assess what, if any, damage there was to the structure.
If there are people trapped inside your home, then it’s important to try and save them. Start by checking all the obvious places first, such as the roof, the attic, and the basement. Most buildings have multiple exits, so you can always find another way out if any of these areas are inaccessible. You should also look for signs of life, such as the presence of breathing or pulsing blood. If you see any signs of life, then it’s time to start moving buckets, ladders, and all the necessary equipment to the site. If there aren’t any signs of life, then it’s most likely that everyone has perished, and you can begin to grieve and move forward.
After a tragic accident, or sudden death, there’s always the overwhelming desire to wash the disaster away. Take a shower as soon as possible to wash the soot and smoke from your body. Washing your body reduces its temperature, making you feel happier and more relaxed. It’s a good idea to take a quick shower after every rescue mission, or dangerous situation. It helps you relax, and reduces your stress levels.
Once you’ve checked for damage and survivors, it’s time to start gathering evidence. Begin by searching for any burnt books or papers in the area where the fire started. Look for debris that could have been caused by the fire, as well as the smell of burnt material. Record what you find, its location, and take pictures if necessary. It’s also important to search for clues as to the cause of the fire, as well as its point of origin. If you have a fireplace, then check it for signs of ignition or burns. Look for loose electrical wires, a blocked chimney, or a generally burnt smell. The inspection of each room in your home is vital in determining the origin of the fire, as well as what went wrong.
Even if none of the above points apply, and your home is fine, it’s still good practice to remain in the same location as the fire. It’s better to stay in one place, and keep everybody else away from the scene. This prevents any rumors or inaccurate information from spreading. It could also mean the rescue workers are able to get the full grasp of the situation, and deal with it quickly. In most cases, once the flames are out, the interior walls and floors will be intact. There may be some soot on the ceiling, but nothing major. You can then begin cleaning each room individually, and making the place feel like brand new. Just remember to be careful with the floors, as they can be hot, and wear protective gear to prevent any burns or abrasions.
The last thing you need is for this disaster to send you into shock, and cause you to make irrational decisions. It’s time to put your head in the sand, and call for help. The only thing you can do is seek professional help. There are highly trained experts who can help you assess the situation, and tell you what actions to take.
When making this call, it’s essential for you to provide them with as much information as possible. This includes the types of fire equipment used, the number of people who were in the building when it happened, whether there were any signs of life, and so forth. Unfortunately, seeking help is not always the answer. Sometimes, the damage is too great, and you’ll have to deal with it yourself. In those cases, you’ll need to determine how much time you have, and what measures you can take to save what you can. If you have a garden, you can start growing your own food now that you’re not relying on restaurants or hotels. Cooking food you grow yourself is a great way to save money, while also reducing your environmental footprint.
While the above points discuss what you should do in the event of a house fire, they don’t cover all situations. If you have a boat, and the opportunity to escape to safety on water, then do it. If you have a helicopter, and the ability to fly above the flames, then take advantage of it. There are many circumstances that could arise where you’d need to flee on land, but the above points should get you through most fires easily.