None of us even want to imagine a situation in which we have a fire start in our home. The idea of experiencing a scare like that is almost too much to handle and it’s something that we naturally push away and don’t want to think about. However, for your sake and for the sake of your loved ones it’s better to be prepared. So today, I want to share with you what to rescue in a fire, how to prevent a fire, and resources that will help you keep your home and your family safe, and if Heaven forbid, there is a fire, what you can do to be better prepared.
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Keep The Number One Thing The Number One Thing
In case of a fire or an evacuation, the MOST important thing you should take with you is your family.
Pretty much everything else is replaceable. And even if it’s not replaceable, it isn’t as valuable as your family members.
The first thing you’re probably thinking of is your pet.
If you can, make them come out with you on your way out. By calling their name or swooping them right before your exit BUT, as much as it hurts to say this, if you’ve made it out, don’t go back in for your pet. I think we’ve all seen way too many shows and movies where this move is not a good idea.
As a pet owner myself, I understand that eat pet has a personality and is unique, but don’t leave your children orphaned when you can adopt or rescue another pet. Pinky promise?
Remember, you’ll already be a hero by taking your family members out. You have nothing else to prove at that moment.
Prepare Your Family In Case of A Fire By Having A Family Plan
Talk to your children ahead of time
- It’s up to you when you want to have this conversation, but have it by age four. Max by age five.
- Make it a game (meaning as pleasant as possible) so that your kids can use their critical thinking skills to tell you all the different doors that there are in your home (make sure you don’t forget the garage door) and also let them know that there are windows that sometimes will be needed to escape a dangerous situation like a fire.
- Tell them that you will do ALL you can to get out of the house TOGETHER. Tell them that they’re your priority— and the number one thing you want to get there.
- But that in the event that the fire is right outside door and you can’t get to them or they can’t get to you because they can’t get to the door— that it’s important that they know that exiting through the window is an option in this one case.
- Ask them to open the window and yell for help
- Ask them to open the window if they can or knock on the window (as if they were knocking on a door) if they can’t open the window.
- Reassure them that firefighters want to save them and that they will be looking to rescue them if they see them.
- Tell them that no toy or anything else in the house is more important than they are so that they should be trying to be rescued because they are your treasure and you will be wanting to see them again.
- Explain to them that they might get help them if firefighters use a ladder to help them down or that they could potentially be asked to jump onto a trampoline. Ask them to trust the firefighter and to be brave so that they can be reunited with you again.
Talk To Your Spouse Or Other Adults That Live With You
- Identify who will get the child/the children and which door you’ll try to get out of if it’s safe to do so.
- Most likely, you’ll envision yourself going out the front door.
- Have a 2nd choice to get out through, most likely your back door.
Have a 3rd choice, if you have it and need it, most likely your garage door although it’s difficult to predict whether the garage will actually open and whether the electric stimulus of trying to open the garage will cause greater harm to the fire.
The Secondary Treasures
Now that we’re clear that if you have your family you have the most important thing, let’s talk about the SECOND most important thing.
The second most important thing is the ONE ☝️ thing you’ll try your best to get out on your way out (only if you can and if it’s safe to do so) and it’s THAT important to you.
Decide what this will be for you. It may be different for everybody.
For me, the second important thing is important paperwork like birth certificates, social security cards and passports. Why? Because this important paperwork would be a hassle to get other originals for. This paperwork would be important for my family and I in our future pursuits. You might think that it’s not a big deal to replace these (and maybe it isn’t) but I wouldn’t want to deal with the situation at hand and all the other companies.
You might want to include the latest copy of your home insurance policy. And if you have photos of valuables there as well just to prove what you own to your home insurance company. I know it’s annoying that we have to think of these things after a potential event like this but better have a backup for things not going our way, than be sorry. If you don’t get to this step or if you forgot to swap the old policy with the new policy, remember that you may have a copy of your insurance policy online. So there’s that potential backup.
Even though I love filing cabinets, I keep this important paperwork in labeled binders with sheet protectors and in a bright-colored cloth bag. That way, I can easily find these documents in case of a fire. Plus, it’s really convenient when you need these documents to literally have them handy. Sometimes, SOME of this paperwork could be used for traveling— and or filling out forms.
Oh, and before you say that your phone is your number two thing…. Pick something else that would be more beneficial because odds are you’ll walk out with your phone anyway. SUCH is your obsession with your phone. 🙂
As a suggestion, if you happen to see your wallet and purse on the way out get those. It also contains things that would be helpful in a situation like this.
The Valuable Extras
Here are some other things that would be nice to have but that do NOT come before your safety:
- cellphone charger
- car keys— in case your car is parked outside the house instead of a garage
- your recipe book, especially if it contains family recipes such as your grandma’s favorite cookies, that you still haven’t gotten around to storing in Paprika App (one of the best apps on the planet).
- photos you haven’t scanned (it would be better if you had scanned them and they were in Dropbox or Sync)
Digital Treasures- Our digital Life
I often wonder if in an actual fire situation we would remember to take our various hard disks. Whether we would have the clarity of mind and the patience to deal with unplugging the cables.
Personally, I don’t think that I would have that clarity of mind. And even if I did, at an alarming time like that I don’t want to worry about that. I just would want my family to get to safety.
So ask yourself:
In the event of a fire, on a scale of 1-10, how likely am I to remember to get the external hard disk or disks?
Do you have a number? Pause to think about this number would be for you.
Trust your own intuition on this. But I would say that if you didn’t say 8, 9, 10, it’s better if you have a better plan.
We’ve all heard of storing things in the cloud. And many of you have Dropbox. To me, this is a habit that we should all have that is beneficial not only when it comes to fires, but also floods, evacuations, invasions, hard disk failure, computer failure — and just for cherished posterity.
Why I like it
- Since most people have it, others may have shared treasures that you like on there
- Easy to back up websites to
Why I don’t Like it:
- Not as private as people think
- Most of us think that we have nothing to hide. And most of us don’t. However, it’s not cool that people can have access to our digital possessions just because. This includes anybody starting from Dropbox employees all the way up.
Why I Like It
- Has WONDERFUL Privacy
- Great customer support
- Canadian based
- You can easily add files to it if you download the Sync folder on your computer.
- You have better control of who has access to the links you share with them and for how long. You can change those settings as you wish.
Why I don’t like it/ what I like least about it
- This is what makes its privacy so good— but if you forget your password— they won’t be able to help you retrieve it. So all responsibility falls on you. But you CAN be responsible for things you love right?
- If you download the Sync folder on your desktop— it’ll be VERY easy to add things to it—as I said, but it’ll be VERY easy for everybody to see your things. So, privacy is kinda mute if someone gets access to your physical computers or phones where you sync your files to.
Tip For Those Of You Who WILL Remember To Get The Hard Disk
If you or your spouse are pretty sure that you will remember to get the hard disk, leave a folded shopping bag folded inside your desk in one of the top drawers just in case you do get your hard drives so that you have somewhere to put them as you make a dash for the door. Cloth shopping bags would work nicely for a situation like these.
If I were going to do this, I would use these types of cloth shopping bags, because you wouldn’t want to make the effort to go for the hard disk(s) only to get outside and realize that your plastic bag had a hole and that the hard disk isn’t there.
These bags can be colorful so you can spot them more easily. AND they’re easily foldable.
These are the reusable shopping bags that I’m talking about:
These bags can hold up to 50 pounds — so you’ll know that your odds of actually getting outside your home with your items is a bit higher.
I don’t want to encourage you to go to all of the computers that you have at home and get all the hard disks— so decide which is the most important one to try to get if the safety conditions are right. But remember, nothing is more valuable to your family than you.
I Have A Proposal Relating to Clothes and Toiletry Items
I know this might be a controversial or over-the-top idea. BUT when someone loses their home to a fire— they usually say— that they escaped with just their shirt on their back.
And that is enough, right? They escaped. THAT is the most important thing. But WHAT IF it didn’t have to be that way? WHAT IF you had prepared backpacks ahead of time that you just grabbed and went out the door with and were really, really close to your main door?
Of course, in situations like these, it’s possible that you may have to use a window, the back door or another door to get out— but what if you had time to go out the main door and these Grab N’ Go bags were ready waiting for you? Maybe they could be hanging in the laundry room. Maybe on hooks. Maybe in cube storage bins of a cube organizer. Or maybe they were inside the hidden storage area of a nice bench close to your main door and therefore, weren’t constant reminders of this event that COULD happen, but were bags there for you in the unfortunate event that it DID happen. This bench could be inside or outside your house.
Maybe you’re hesitating and you’re thinking that this is over-planning. Maybe you can’t imagine NOT using these items UNLESS disaster struck.
BUT let’s start off with the premise that most of us only use about 20% of our wardrobe.
So, IF YOU WANT, you can put some of your least favorite versions of these things into a backpack.
- Undershirt for boys/girls
- Makeup Remover
- Cotton Swabs
- Body Wash
- Hearing aid batteries, contact lenses, old glasses and/or old working hearing aids or hearing amplifiers (in case you use these and forget to get your main ones)
- Comfy shoes (check they fit— especially on children whose feet grow so fast)
- Shorts (in case this happens when the weather is warm)
- Short sleeve shirt
- Long sleeve shirt
- Light jacket / hoodie (optional) (in case this happens when the weather is cool or cold)
- A thing that will help you keep the faith. A prayer. A poem. A symbol. A tape. A CD. A note.
Going through the loss of a home must be horrendous. It’s a bit comforting to know that you could have the essentials— to make it through that day or night— without feeling like you literally have nothing. I’m sure people would step in and try to help— BUT it’s nice to know that even in times like those you’re a tiny, tiny bit able to provide the basics for yourself.
How To Avoid A Fire From Happening In The First Place
Get a Ting
This is not a typo. I do mean get a Ting.
Let me explain.
Did you know that there is a device that you can plug into ANY outlet of your home that can automatically check if the electric current is fine and update you on your phone if anything’s off in an effort to prevent an electric fire?
It’s called a Ting Sensor. You can go to their website to find out more BUT before you buy anything… ask your home insurance if they offer it for free.
Yep, it’s possible you can get this device and service for absolutely free for up to 3 years.
Here’s the website:
You can watch a video there.
Basically, it’s a device that’s the next generation of fire safety device that can alert you BEFORE a fire breaks out. It takes about two minutes to install and it’s helpful in detecting hidden electrical hazard that could potentially develop into an electrical fire. Once you install it, it searches for electrical faults and alerts you if there are any. The Ting Team is also notified. You get a call and the Ting certified electrician is dispatched to repair the fault.
This is the Ting app you would need from the App store if you got it.
If you want to know more about the company that created Ting Sensor you can visit:
Make Sure Your Smoke Detectors Are Working
One of the most fundamental things you can do is to have fire alarms in every room and ensure that they are always working.
If you have smoke detectors that warn you if the battery is low:
Replace the battery when the battery low alarm goes off (which usually happens in the middle of the night for some reason), at the latest, replace it the following morning. I KNOW that that sound is annoying, but it’s meant for you to take action. ESPECIALLY in this life-saving step. Have spare batteries at home.
If you have smoke detectors that DON’T warn you if the battery is low:
Change or at the very least check that the battery is working every year. Add this date to your calendar. Whether it be your Google Calendar or my favorite task manager, Asana.
Recommended Battery For Smoke Detector That Uses 9v Batteries
Most fire alarms use a 9V battery.
You can either opt to buy rechargeable batteries or single-use batteries. I LOVE rechargeable batteries. I’ve been using rechargeable batteries since around the year 2000. The reason I love them is that once you have them, you have them. They’re like an investment that keeps on giving. Most Importantly, using recyclable batteries is eco-friendly, which is important given this topic and the importance of addressing climate change.
If you prefer single-use batteries, I would recommend that you set up a Subscribe and Save order so that the batteries arrive automatically without you even thinking about them at your desired time and so that you always have them if the battery low alarm goes off or if it’s time to test/replace batteries.
Rechargeable 9V batteries for Smoke Alarm
If you would like a highly-rated rechargeable battery, go with the EBL 4-Pack 9V Batteries Li-ion 9 Volt Rechargeable Batteries that include a 9V Battery Charger
These batteries have a low self-discharge, which means that even after 3 years of NOT using these batteries, they’ll still have 75% of their capacity. The manufacturer of these batteries recommends them for smoke alarms, professional audio and medical devices, which are ALL situations in which reliability matters.
Single-Use 9 Volt Batteries for Smoke Alarms
If, instead, you go for single-use batteries, here’s are three 9V that you can use.
But remember to write down in noticeable clear print when you bought the battery, that way when you need it, you have an idea of how old it is, and you can plan to check on that battery accordingly.
The manufacturer states that these batteries can be used for smoke detectors. They can hold power for up to 5 years. It’s designed to prevent leaks.
They have a patented power barrier technology which keeps them fresh for 7 years as if they were made that same day.
These batteries don’t have mercury or cadmium, and are leakproof, which makes them environmentally friendly.
The manufacturer does state that these batteries can be for smoke alarms. They have excellent durability and performance as well as long-lasting power, can hold power for up to 7 years in a cool, dry and well-ventilated area and they don’t contain mercury or cadmium, which makes this battery more eco-friendly.
According to the Home Security Store’s The 7 Best 9 Volt Batteries For Smoke Alarms – Home Security Store, when it comes to durability, the Duracell – Quantum D Alkaline Batteries are the best batteries for smoke detectors. They allow you to see how charged the batteries are before using or while using them with the Power Charge Feature.
If you fire alarms use AA batteries, I recommend the EBL AA Rechargeable Batteries. I use them for pretty much everything in my house that needs AA batteries. I’ve been using them for years and love them.
An Indispensable Device You Need To Keep Your Family Safe
Don’t forget that it’s VERY, VERY, VERY important that you also have a carbon monoxide alarm. It’s one thing to know the danger of open flame by smelling or seeing it. It’s another thing to NOT be able to see or smell a poisonous gas and not be able to help or save your family. And when you don’t know that this situation can happen and you light up a match, it’s a disastrous fire hazard.
The one I have, after doing plenty of research is the Kidde Carbon Monoxide Detector and Alarm.
It makes me emotional to know that the only reason I know about this device is because I once read of a super sad story on social media about a family who didn’t have this much-needed alarm. It’s actually one of the most impactful things that I read. It was SO eye-opening that I went on Amazon and I immediately started researching carbon monoxide alarms and ended up going with one. Seriously, though! Why is it that when firefighters visited our schools they didn’t show teach us, or most importantly, our parents about the importance of a carbon monoxide detector?
It’s SO inexpensive it’s pretty much unforgivable that we don’t know much more about this. So share this with your loved ones.
Foster Habits That Help Keep Your Family Safe
- Have a working fire extinguisher. Have a general idea of how to use it.
- Remember that iodized salt, meaning regular table SALT (yeah, the kind you cook with) can potentially diffuse a fire. Have it next to the stove.
- If you get interrupted often when you’re cooking or you want to make sure that nothing burns or gets overcooked, set a timer for each thing you’re cooking or baking in the oven as a reminder to ensure that you turned off the stovetop and the oven.
- ALWAYS double-check that the stovetop and oven are turned off. If you’re in the market for a new oven, the kind that I recommend are the ones that have a red line on the knobs themselves because you can easily spot that all of the burners are off.
- Train your kids to never play with or use fire.
- Tell you or your spouse they smell smoke
- Tell them to notify you— if the cooking/kitchen alarm is going off and you’re in the bathroom, a call comes in or you’re in the garage and can’t hear the alarm. This is especially important if you’re hard of hearing.
Clean The Obvious Spots
Clean your stovetop, your oven and your toaster often so that no debris catches on fire.
And clean another obvious spot that many people don’t think is a fire hazard until it is. Make sure you clean the weeds in your garden and pick up the weeds that you cut.
Get Life insurance, Yesterday
Nobody wants to talk about it, BUT one thing you would like to have for sure before experiencing an event like this is life insurance. Heaven forbid anything happened to you or your spouse. Term life is better. Get it sooner rather than later. It’s not only better to do that in order to be prepared, but you potentially get better coverage by getting it when you’re younger, and hopefully healthier.
Lead By Example
Teach Your Children To Stay Away From Potential Fire Dangers
If you have a lighter keep it away from children. Preferably, have a lighter that you charge. It’s a bit safer and more eco-friendly but it’s still something you want to keep away from children.
The same thing applies for birthday candles. It’s true that birthday candles can’t be automatically lit, but of you notice, many children are drawn to birthday candles because they associate them to their birthdays and the fact that they Lee’s them out and you don’t want children to try to recreate that experience.
Don’t Light Candles
Period. I know it’s really “sexy” to create an ambiance with candles.
And now, more than ever, there are wonderful candles that you can get shipped directly to your home.
BUT… don’t do it.
The way I see it is that if you ask your kids not to “play” with fire, then don’t “play with fire yourself and make open flames part of their regular “ambiance” or environment.
There are ways of recreating the benefits of healthy candles without risking your home, your loved ones or your pets.
1) Candle Warmers
There’s a company that’s been around for a while called Candlewarmers.com and they have alternative ways of using your candle. One of these ways is through the candle warmer that you plug in and turn on to warm your candle and enjoy its scent instead of lighting it.
I have three fragrance warmers from them.
I have two of the Black Aurora Lamps .
I also have the Original Candle Warmer:
2) Pluggable Fragrance Warmers for Candle Melts
My favorite plug-in warmers are also from Candlewarmers.com but which you can find on Amazon (LINK).
I have three of the pineapple version with a gold top.
You can find candles that automatically turn on after a given time frame.
You can use these to decorate. You can also use them as replacements for fireplaces.
These have nine candles, two remotes and flicker.
These candles are expensive but have a moving wick.
Where Do I Get My Candles and Melts
Throughout my life, I have received candles as gifts. I also bought one at World Market once.
I have also purchased some other Italian candles.
I have all of them because I’ve used them with warmers.
But the ones I bought in 2020 and am still enjoying are some candles from www.thegoodcandle.com . My favorite two scents are Honeydew Melon and Moroccan Sunset in that order. Martha, The Good Candle business owner, is very creative and comes out with different scents and collections. Just so you know, Moroccan Sunset is apparently one of the most popular scents (if not THE most popular scent). Sometimes containers or collections sell out, but don’t stress too much about them. They usually come back. If you want to smell the scents on your own and decide your favorites, you can order melts to sample which you like best. Even if the sampler set is sold out, YOU can order pretty much any scent and quantity you like. I suggest you just order one melt of the scents that intrigue you (versus 2 or 3 of the same). You can also buy Candle warmer pluggables from Martha. If you have a candle lover in your life, you’ll be able to delight them by sending them a gift from this shop given that the packaging inside the delivery box is perfect.
Keep in mind that even though candle warmers eliminate the danger of open fire, use precaution with candle warmers, too. Don’t leave them on unattended for long periods of time — ESPECIALLY NOT all day.
When you warm candles with candle warmers instead of by lighting them, they don’t produce soot and the candles themselves burn more efficiently.
Don’t Fire Up The Chimney
I actually do like chimneys a lot. I grew up most of my childhood in a house with a chimney that was used the traditional way. I always envisioned that my own home would have a chimney and it does.
And as I said in my last blog post called, Amazon Favorite Things That Brought Me The Joy During This Pandemic, one of the things that brought me A LOT of joy during this pandemic because I used it for the first time was precisely a Turbo Electric Fireplace Amazon.com: TURBRO Eternal Flame EF23-PB Electric Fireplace Logs, 23” Remote Control Fireplace Insert Log Heater. That device brought my real chimney to life for the first time in over a decade. I get more joy out of this electric fireplace than I would if I used my real chimney as a real fireplace. It not only provides me with the cozy vibe that I like, but it ALSO provides the heat. And I don’t have to take care of the fire, clean the debris AND I can turn on the chimney year-round for the cozy feel of the fireplace with a click of a remote control button.
That’s how adamant I’ve been since I’ve lived here to pretty much never have a candle on. Since having kids, the only candles that have been on are the birthday candles for the duration of the “Happy Birthday” song. And maybe— that little flame is more special in those few minutes for each of our birthdays than it is in other homes where these many precautions aren’t taken.
Now It’s Your Turn
I realize that my parameters for keeping my family safe can seem a bit too much. But as my mom always says “accidents happen in the most stupid of ways.” And it’s true. Therefore, I’m trying to eliminate the potential of that happening the best way I can.
Now it’s your turn to share what you know: What are some of your best tips for keeping your household safe?
Please share it in the comments below.